One of the most striking characteristics of the sheepshead fish is its teeth, which are amazingly similar to human teeth.
Binomial name: Archosargus probatocephalus
Common Names: sheepshead bream, convict fish, sheepshead porgie
Sheepshead Fish Teeth
The anterior teeth of the sheepshead are incisor-like, while the posterior molars are set further back. Sharp and thick teeth begin to appear when a sheepshead fish is just 4.5 mm long, and when the fish grows to about 15 mm long, all the incisors appear. At the same time, its back teeth develop into adult molars.
Interestingly enough, no one really knows why the sheepshead fish has that name, but it’s been suggested that it’s because its teeth look like that of sheep.
The sheepshead fish is a deep-bodied, compressed marine fish with sharp dorsal spines. The fish commonly reaches 10 – 20 inches but can grow to be as large as 35 inches! It has a hard mouth and stubby teeth that bear a striking resemblance to human teeth.
Sheepshead are typically grey with 5-6 black stripes. Their dorsal spines are sharp; along with their hard mouth, with several rows of stubby teeth. The back of the sheepshead is elevated behind its head, which, in turn, is sloping and deep in profile. The sheepshead has a short snout with a mouth nearly horizontal and inferior. Its scales are finely serrate and it has sharp dorsal spines. Its body color is usually green-yellow or gray in color, marked with 5-7 vertical black bars. It’s generally seen that the anal, ventral and dorsal fins are typically black or gray, while the pectoral and caudal fins have a more greenish hue.
Sheepshead fish can be found on the Gulf and the Atlantic coasts of the United States.
Adults are found nearshore coastal waters, bays, sounds, and estuaries and enter brackish reaches of rivers. Typically associated with reefs, live bottom, wrecks, piers, pilings, rocks, and jetties.
Juveniles inhabit grass beds, muddy bottoms, and oyster reefs within estuaries. Older juveniles tolerate higher salinity water near jetties, piers, and other hard structures in coastal waters.
They feed on oysters, clams, fiddler crabs, and other crustaceans.
South Carolina Record
The South Carolina State Record is 16 pounds, 6 ounces in 2008.
The average size sheepshead is 14 inches, 3 pounds. Sheepshead grow to 30 inches, but more commonly reaches 10- 20 inches. They live to approximately 25 years old.
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