Commercially fished, and considered an excellent food fish, sheepshead seabream are commonly caught by anglers from rocks and jetties in the coastal waters of the western Atlantic. Sheepshead seabream are omnivorous, feeding on invertebrates, small vertebrates and occasionally plant material.
  • Size

    3 feet (91cm) and 21 lbs. (9.6 kg)
  • Diet

    Invertebrates, small vertebrates and occasionally plant material
  • Range

    Coastal waters of the Western Atlantic Ocean
  • Habitat

    Bays and estuaries around rock pilings, jetties, mangrove roots and piers, as well as in tidal creeks

Physical Characteristics

Size

  • This species grows to about 3 feet (91cm) and 21 lbs. (9.6 kg).

Body Composition

  • Sheepshead seabream has an oval-shaped, deep body and a blunt snout.

Color

  • It has a broad black bar across the forehead and 5 to 6 dark bands vertically across its body.
  • Its sides are silvery to yellowish with a darker olive-brown color dorsally.

 

Animal Fact

Adult seabream have impressive teeth and will use them to crush heavily armored and shelled prey and to scrape barnacles from rocks and pilings

Diet / Feeding

Diet

  • This fish is omnivorous, feeding on invertebrates, small vertebrates and occasionally plant material.
  • The diet of the juvenile includes zooplankton, polychaete worms and midge larvae.

Feeding

  • Adults use their impressive dentition to crush heavily armored and shelled prey and to scrape barnacles from rocks and pilings.

Range / Habitat

Range

  • Sheepshead seabream occurs in coastal waters of the Western Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia through the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean coasts of Central and South America, south to Brazil. It is absent from Bermuda, the Bahamas and the West Indies. The densest populations are encountered off southwest Florida.

Habitat

  • This species primarily is found in bays and estuaries around rock pilings, jetties, mangrove roots and piers, as well as in tidal creeks.
  • It freely enters brackish water and, sometimes, fresh water.
  • Juveniles live in seagrass flats and over mud bottoms.

Additional Information

  • Sheepshead seabream moves to offshore areas in late winter and early spring for spawning, which sometimes occurs over artificial reefs and near navigation markers.
  • This species is fished commercially and is considered an excellent food fish.
  • It is commonly caught by anglers from rocks and jetties.
  • Sharks and other large carnivorous fishes prey on the sheepshead.

Sources

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