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Florida Manatee & Aquatic Center Animal Fact Sheet
SHEEPSHEAD
Archosargus probatocephalus

Range:
Western Atlantic from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean (Central and South America), and Brazil.

A matured Sheepshead maintains a silver to greenish-yellow body and an olive back. There most significant feature is the five to six vertical black bars, which run along each side of the body. While the caudal and pectoral fins are a greenish white, the dorsal, anal, and ventral fins are black.

The Sheepshead has an oval-shaped body, a blunt snout, and a small mouth. The dorsal and anal fins have spines; the spine along the anal fin is distended. Their long pectoral fins extend beyond the anal opening of the fish when closed or pressed into the fish’s body.

The Sheepshead is able to feed on armored and shelled prey because of their incredible array of teeth. They also use their teeth to scrape barnacles from rocks and pilings.
The Sheepshead’s teeth include incisors, molars, and rounded grinders.

The Sheepshead is also called the Convict Fish because of its distinct black and white bars of the body.




Habitat: Mainly found inshore around rock pilings, jetties, oyster bars, seawalls, mangrove roots, piers, and tidal creeks. They prefer brackish water.
Diet: Omnivores: Feed on invertebrates, small vertebrates, blue crab, oysters, clams, crustaceans, small fish, and plant material. Juveniles feed on zooplankton, polychaetes, and chironomid larvae.
Status: Not Evaluated
Approximate Dimensions of Adult:

Length: 14-18 inches
Weight: 1-8 lbs

Lifespan: Average age is 2-8 years, but they can live up to 20 years.
Reproduction & Offspring:

In the later winter and early Spring, the Sheepshead moves offshore for spawning.  They only lay a portion of their eggs at a time, which is refered to as fractional spawning. Eggs hatch after 40 hours. They remain in larval stage for 30-40 days until they begin maturation into juveniles. Juvenile Sheepsheads are typically found living in seagrass flats and over mud bottoms.


 

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