G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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157. The Flying-fish Family (ScombrrnH>cl<l<r) 459

\'<f>. Tin- I'ike Family (EneUiai) 461

l. r i!. Tin- Mnmmirhog Family (I'yprinodoxliilir) 466

y. Tin >\i MI IN THIIIK 468

100. The Salmon (Salmo italar) 468

161. The Saliminx of the 1'acifio. By DAVID 8. JORDAN 474

162. The (jiiinnat or California Salmon (OncorhyHchui chouiiha). By LIVINGSTON STONB 479

ld:i. The Namiiyeiihh or Lake Trout (SalrrliNus namaycusk) 4H5

164. The Speckled Trout (Salrclinu* fonlinalin) 497

105. The Saibling or Bavarian Char (Salrtlimit alpinnt) 500

166. The l>i>ll\ Yunlrn Trout (Salrrlinus malma). By DAVID S. JORDAN 504

li~. The Grayling (TOymaNii* tricolor) 506

168. The Lake White-fish ( Corrgonut clnpriformin). By R. I. GKARK 507

169. The Lesser White-fishes. By DAVID 8. JORDAN 541

170. The Smelt Tribe 543

171. Families related to the Salmonida) 547


172. The Herring (Clupea h,n; n,/n.- , 549

173. The Herrings of the Pacific Coant. By DAVID 8. JORDAN 668

174. The Menhaden (Breroortia tyrannut) fi69

175. The Gulf Menhaden (Brnoorlia patron lie) 575


176. The River Herrings or Ale wives (Clupea imliralin and ('. rernalii) 579

177. i in the occarrence of the Branch Alewife in certain Lakesof New York. By TAKLETON II. BEAN.. 588

178. The Inland Alewife or Skipjack (Clupta chrysockluru) 5!4

179. The Shad (Clupea tapidisnma) 594

180. The Hickory Shad or Mattowacca (Clupea mediocri*) 607


181. The Mud Shad (Dorotoma cepedianum) 610

182. TheTarpnm (Megalopn thriisoidet) 610

183. The Big-eyed Herring 611

184. The Anchovies (Engroulidee) 611

185. The Lady-fish Family (Albulida;) 612

186. The Moon-eye Family (Hyodontid<r) 612


187. The Sucker Family (Catotomid<v). By DAVID 8. JORDAN 614

188. The*Carp Family (Cyprinida). By DAVID S. JORDAN 616

189. The Carp (Cyprinus carpio). By RUDOLI-II Hi i i 618

189. The Catfish Family (Silrida'). By DAVID 8. JORDAN 627

190. The Morays (Mm-iruida) 629

191. The Eel ( Angnilla rulgaru) 630

192. The Conger Eel ( Lfptoctphalus conger) 656


193. The Bo\vlins(.lmiM<c) 669

194. The Paddle-fishes (Polyodontida) 660

195. The Sturgeons (Acipenteridte) 660

19f. The Chimiera Family (Chimatridai) 663

197. The Gar Pikes (Lepidotttidai) 063

198. The Torpedoes and Skates (Raice) 666

199. The Saw-fish (Priitit pectinatu*) 668

200. The Sharks (Squali) 668

201. The Sharks of the Pacific Coast. By DAVID 8. JORDAN tf* 8

202. The Lampreys ( retromyzontidm) 677

203. The Hag Fishes ( tfyrimdie) 681

204. The Lancelots ( Hrancktoolomidat) **




NOTE. In preparing the following chapters upon the food-fishes of the United States, the
author* have avoided all technical discussions, all descriptions of form, all digressions of the kind
in which naturalists, even when writing for the general reading public, are so prone to indulge.
\\ r anticipate the criticism that the book is of no use in identifying the different kinds of ii-h. by
the statement that we expressly desire that it shall not be. We have tried to present in concise
form the information suited to the needs of the fisherman, the fish purchaser, the statistician, and
the general reader. Most of our important species can bo identified by reference to the plates.
If greater accuracy of identification be needed, the inquirer is advised to consult Jordan's Synopsis
of the Fishes of North America, which forms Bulletin No. 16 of the United States National Museum


The family Orthagoriscida: is represented in the Western Atlantic by two species.

The common Sun Fish, Orthagoriscus mola, with its compressed, disk-shaped body and its
elongated dorsal and anal fins, is one of the most grotesque of sea animals. This species is found
in all parts of the world in temperate and tropical seas, and has been recorded from the coasts of
Japan and California. It occurs also in the Mediterranean and on both sides of the Atlantic.
On our own eastern coast it may be observed every summer, from the Banks of Newfoundland to
Florida. It has not been seen in the Gulf of Mexico, but there is one instance of its capture at
the Bermudas. It rarely frequents the New England coast except in summer. In the winter of
1874-'75 two large specimens were taken at the mouth of the Saint John's River, Florida.

Sun Fishes attain a length of seven or eight feet and a weight of seven or eight hundred
pounds. They may be seen along our coast on almost any calm summer's day. As many as ten
or twelve are often met with in the course of a day's cruise. They float lazily, with one of the
bright sides of the body just at the surface. As they float, the waves ripple and break over them,
and the heavy pectoral fins move slowly to and fro through the air; thus lying, they are very
conspicuous objects, and may be seen at long distances. They spend whole days in this position,
and may very easily be approached and harpooned. From this habit of sunning themselves they
have gained the name of Sun Fishes.

Their food consists of the jelly-fish, or sun-squalls, which are so abundant along the New
England coast in summer. Their jaws, however, are strong, and it would seem probable that they
sometimes seek more substantial food.

Nothing whatever is known of the place or time of their breeding : the young are occasionally
taken in mid-ocean.

Many individuals are harpooned by our fishermen every summer. They are not applied to any
practical use, but are brought to the cities and exhibited as curiosities. The fishermen of Cape Cod
sometimes make oil from the livers. This oil is prized highly as a remedy for sprains and bruises.

In the "Transactions of the Royal Society of London," 1740, was published a communication
"Concerning the Mola Salu, or Sun Fish, and Glue Made from It," contributed by the Rev. William
Barlow, in which mention is made of the capture of a specimen near Newfoundland. I am not
aware that the suggestions of this author have ever been further carried out.

As a food fish the Sun Fish is probably the most worthless species in our waters. The flesh is
thin and hard, and, when cooked, separates into oil and bunches of tough fibers.

On the California coast, according to Jordan, this species is very abundant, especially in the


Santa Barbara Channel iii summer, where it may be seen lying near the surface, or even some-
times leaping from the water. It is known to the Italians as the Mola, to the Americans as the
Sun Fish. It seldom appears before June, and disappears in the winter. No use is made of it, as
it is not easily caught, and rarely, if ever, eaten. A specimen weighing 636 pounds was brought
to San Francisco some years ago.

There is a small species, Ranzania truncata, much more elongated in form, which has been
taken in various parts of the Atlantic and Pacific, but never nearer to our shores than the
Bermudas, where an individual of eight inches was captured in 1878.


SWELL FISHES AND PUFFERS. There are four species of this family inhabiting the Atlantic
coast, and two on the coast of California. The best known is the Swell Fish of New England,
Ghilomyctenm geometricus. These fishes are commonly known by such names as "Burr Fish,'"
"Ball Fish," "Swell Fish," and "Toad Fish"; while in Southern Florida the names "Porgy,"
"Puffer," and "Puff Fish" are sometimes used.

With their short, thick, spiny bodies, which they have the power of inflating to twice their
ordinary size, and their harlequin-like colors, they are always conspicuous, and are favorite fish
for aquaria. After they have inflated their bellies by swallowing air, they turn upon their backs
and swim at the surface.

They have the power, when handled, of uttering loud grunting sounds.

No practical use is made of them, but their skins are often stuffed and exposed for sale in
the curiosity shops, particularly those at places of p opular resort, like Nantucket, Oak Bluffs,
Jacksonville, and Saint Augustine. These fish belong to a tropical family, and are only seen
in summer.

Nothing definite is known about their food or breeding habits.


Of this family, which is extremely numerous in warm seas, over sixty species being known,
there are seven species in the waters of the United States, one of them being found on the California
coast. They are summer visitors from a warmer climate, and, like the members of the preceding
family, are chiefly important to curiosity hunters. They are known by such names as "Swell
Fish," "Bottle Fish," " Bellows Fish," "Egg Fish," "Babbit Fish," "Globe Fish," "Swell-toad,"
"Box Fish," "Porcupine Fish," and "Blower."

One species, the common Swell Fish, or Egg Fish, Tctrodon turgiAus, ranges from Cape Cod to
the Gulf of Mexico, being very abundant about the eastern end of Long Island, where a hundred
or more are sometimes taken in one haul of a fyke-net.

The Babbit Fish, Lagocephalm Icevigatus, is known in New England waters through the occa-
sional visits of stragglers. It is quite abundant in the Gnlf of Mexico, where it is occasionally
taken with hook and line upon the red-snapper banks. According to Stearns, it breeds about
Pensacola in June and July.

This fish, which attains the length of three feet and the weight of five or six pounds, is used
for food in Cuba, but it is not sufficiently abundant with us to have any commercial value.


The Trunk Fishes, Ostraciontidai, are occasionally taken on our coasts, especially to the south
of Cape Hatteras. We have five species, one of them being Californian. Like the Porcupine and

'See GOODK : A study of the Trunk Fishes (Ostraciontida), with notes upon the American species of the family.
<Proceedings United States National Museum, ii, 1880, pp. 261-283.

Till- TIM'NK 1 ISIIHS. 171

Swell Fishes, which have just beeu described, great numbers of them are preserved for sale iu
curiosity shops.

The Trunk Fishes appear to have been objects of curiosity in the early days of American
exploration, and were evidently among the choicest treasures of the primitive museums of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Their strange shape naturally attracted the attention of
travelers, while the ease with which their shells could be preserved then, as now, made them
valuable to the curiosity hunters.

No group of tropical fishes is so thoroughly worked out iu the writings of the fathers of
Natural History as this one. Ovr two hundred years ago every species of Trunk Fish now taken
from the Atlantic was known to and described by the naturalists of Northern Europe, and it is a
well-deserved tribute to their discrimination as zoSlogists to say that none of the many effort*, which
have since been made to subdivide their species, have been at all successful.

Artedi, in his notes upon the different forms of Ostracion, mentions the various collections in
which he observed specimens. "The Nagg's Head," " White Bear," and the "Green Dragon in
Stepney," to which he very often alludes, seem to have been London taverns where curiosities were
kept. He also speaks of seeing them in the museum of Hans Sloane, which was the nucleus of
the British Museum; also in the collections of I). Seba, in Amsterdam, of Mr. Lillja, in London,
of Mr. (Don) Saltcros, in Chelsey, and of seeing various specimens at Stratford, and "in Spring
Garden." No other kinds of fishes appear to have been preserved except "the monk- or Anyel-fah
A nglix, aliax Mermaid-fish," probably a species of Squatina, which he saw in London at the Nagg's
Head and in the town of Chelsea. The art of taxidermy was evidently not thoroughly established
in 1738.

Of Ostracion bicaudalis he remarks, " Vidi Londini, in the White Bear," and " Apud D Sebain
vidi." Ostracion trigonu* he saw " Apud Sir Hans Sloane et in Nagg's Head"; Ostracion triqueter
and 0. quadricornis, " Londini in the Nagg's Head et apud Mr. Lillia."

These specimens were all said to have come from India.

In the West Indies and in Florida the Trunk Fishes are sometimes baked in their own shells,
and, when cooked in this manner, are considered by many persons to be great delicacies.

There are instances on record of serious cases of poisoning which have resulted from eating
them. These cases occurred in tropical countries, where the flesh of fish often becomes delete-
rious after a few hours' keeping.


File Fishes, Ralistida:, are found everywhere in tropical and sub-tropical seas. It is supposed
that they breed in mid-ocean. There are numerous species in this family, of which nine or ten
occur along our Atlantic coast. They belong in warm seas, and only four species are found as far
north as New England. With their strong teeth they are able to break the shells of mollusks,
tipon which they feed. They are known to be very injurious to the pearl fisheries in regions where
such fisheries exist. The best known species on our coast is the Orange File Fish, Alutera Schoepfii,
also called "Barnacle-eater" and "Fool Fish," which is rather common in Southern New England
and in the Gulf of Mexico.

This species is conspicuous on account of its bright skin, sometimes of an orange and some-
times of a tawny hue. It attains the length of eighteen to twenty inches, and feeds upon many
species of soft marine animals.

There are one or two small species which are of no importance except to the possessors of
aquarium tanks, with whom they are great favorites.


The Leather-jacket of Pensacola, Batistes capriscus, called "Trigger Fish" in the Carolinas, and
at Key West and the Bermudas known as the "Turbot," occasionally finds its way as far north as
Massachusetts. It is, however, of no importance north of Florida. In the Bermudas it is con-
sidered a valuable food -fish. According to Mr. Stearns, "it is very common in the Gulf of Mexico
from Key West to the Mississippi River, and lives in deep waters near the coast on the grounds
where Red Snappers and Groupers are caught. It is one of the most abundant species. In regions
where it is not eaten it is regarded as a pest by the fishermen from its habit of stealing bait from
their hooks. Its manner of taking the bait is rather peculiar, I think, for instead of pulling the
line backward or to one side it raises it upward so quietly that the fisherman does not perceive the
motion, and then, by careful nibbling, cleans the hook without injury to itself. Expert fishermen,
however, can tell by the "lifting of the lead," as it is called, what is going on below, and know what
they have to contend against. The usual remedy is to seek other fishing grounds where Leather-
jackets are not so troublesome. When one of these crafty fish has been hooked there is not much
probability that it can be landed, for its sharp, powerful teeth are almost sure to cut some part of
the gear, enabling it to escape. I have several times known of their biting in two the large red-
snapper hooks on which they were caught. They remain throughout the year on the fishing
grounds, where the water varies from ten to forty fathoms. On these same grounds it is probable
that they spawn."

Only adult specimens have been seen in West Florida. More could probably be learned of its
spawning habits in the vicinity of Key West, where it occurs in shallow water and quite near to
the shore. At Key West it is known as the Turbot, and is a favorite article of food. It is to be
seen almost daily in the market.

The skin of this species is used for scouring and polishing purposes at Key West and the
Bahama Islands. In the Bermudas also the skin of the Turbot is used by carpenters almost to
the exclusion of sand-paper, the former being better adapted for fine work in polishing wood.


There are one or more species of the Sea-horse family on the Atlantic coast, and also one
on that of California. Their strange shapes and interesting habits render them very popular
inmates of aquaria, and dried specimens are frequently sold in the curiosity shops in seaside towns.

The ordinary species of the Western Atlantic is the Hippocampus heptagonm; this also occurs
in Europe. There have been only one or two instances of the capture of this fish north of Cape
Cod ; one was seined with a school of mackerel on George's Bank in August, 1873. Two or three
specimens have been taken at Wood's Holl during the last ten years, and instances of their capture
in Connecticut and about the mouth of the Hudson are not rare.

A Sea-horse was described many years ago under the name H. hudsoniw, but it seems to be
identical with H. heptagonus. On the New Jersey coast and south to the Gulf of Mexico it appears
to be very abundant. An excellent account of the habits of this fish may be found in an article
by the Rev. Samuel Lockwood in the "American Naturalist." 1 Three other species occur on our
southern coast. H. ingens, the Californiau species, is very large, often attaining the length of
eight to ten inches.


The Pipe Fishes, Syngnathida, which are closely related to the sea-horse, but have small
heads and elongated bodies, so that at first sight they closely resemble small eels, are found
nearly everywhere on our coasts, living among the eel-grass and feeding upon very minute marine

1 LOCKWOOD, SAMUKL. The Sea Horse and its young. <Amer. Naturaliat, i, 1867, pp. 225-234.

TIII: rii-i-: FISH i AMII.Y. 173

animate. There are three or four upecies in Eastern North America, but their relations have not
been definitely learned. I have observed them in Florida spawning in April, and in Southern
New England in .Inly and August. They are of no importance to man except as interesting objects
for the aquarium. They are too hard and fleshless even to servo as food for other fishes.


The fishes of this group are very grotesque in form and very remarkable in their habits
Some of them are pelagic and are met with in tropical seas, especially where there are masses of
floating vegetation, whilst others are found in the depths of the ocean. On our coast are several
species, the names and distribution of which arc given in the list which accompanies this report.
Although they are among the most interesting of all fishes, they have no commercial value, and
it is therefore inappropriate that they should be discussed in this report. The best known species
:ire the Marbled Angler, Pterophrync hiatrio, and the Sea Bat, Malthe vespertilio.


The Goose Fish or Monk Fish, Tjophius piscatorius, is common to the coasts of the North
Atlantic States and of Europe. In the Western Atlantic the species has not been observed
south of latitude 38, where, according to Uhler and Lugger, it is found in the drains of
Worcester County, Maryland, and along the coast of that region, though there is reason to
believe that stragglers occur at Cape Lookout (latitude 34 40 7 ), where the jawbones have been
found, and the fishermen claim to know them. It abounds along the coast of New England, and
has been found at depths of three hundred fathoms or more off Newport, Rhode Island, and one
hundred of Halifax. The limits of its northern range are not known, Nova Scotia being the
most northerly point of record. Richardson suggests that the Thutinameg or "Wind-fish" of
Hudson's Bay, which is said to come to the surface in windy weather only, belongs to this
family; and, indeed, this was thought by Pennant to be Lophius piscatoriu*. This is at best
extremely doubtful, for its range, as now understood, is limited by the parallel of 50. It is not
known to occur in Greenland.

Instances are on record of its capture in Iceland, 1 and it is said very rarely to occur at the
Faroe Islands. It has been found at the North Cape, latitude 71, and doubtless ]>enetrates to the
White Sea. It is found along the coasts of Scandinavia, south to Spain, and throughout the
Mediterranean, where it is abundant in the Italian waters. Either this or an allied species occurs
at the Cape of Good Hope. On the American coast it occurs at temperatures of 32 to 60.
There is some reason to think that south of Cape Cod it retreats to deep water in summer.

The names of the fish are many ; that most commonly in use among the Massachusetts fisher-
men is "Goose Fish." In Maine it is often called " Monk Fish"; in Rhode Island, "Bellows Fish";
in Eastern Connecticut, "Molligut," and in North Carolina, "Allmonth." The Connecticut name
reminds us of the " Greedigut," a fish, probably the same, mentioned by early colonial writers,
particularly in the poem in Wood's "New England's Prospect."

In England the same names are in use; also, "Angler," " Fishing Frog," "Frog Fish," "Mer-
maid," "Round Robin," "Sea Devil," "Toad Fish "(Germany), "Wide Gut," and "Wide Gap."
"Kettlemaw" is like the American "Allmouth." Scotland has "Keethie," "Keghie," and "Keit-
hok." The continental languages have at least fifty distinct names in addition.

Goose Fishes are sluggish, slow-moving animals, and are occasionally seen swimming near the
surface, though ordinarily found upon the bottom. They feeds upon other fish often on large
ones, their swallowing powers being practically unlimited. Mackerel, sculpins, sea ravens, and

< KAIIKK: Fiaohe Island*, p. 68.


dog-fish, crabs, squids, and lobsters have been found in their stomachs by observers of the United
States Fish Commission. They often attempt to feed upon each other. The common name refers
to the fact that they have been known to swallow live geeae. A fisherman told me he once saw a
struggle in the water, and found that a Goose Fish had swallowed the head and neck of a large
loon, which had pulled it to the surface and was trying to escape. There is authentic record of
seven wild ducks having been taken from the stomach of one of them. Slyly approaching from
below, they seize birds as they float upon the surface. They annoy the fishermen by swallow-
ing the wooden buoys attached to the lobster pots. Mr. Minot, of Magnolia, Massachusetts,
caught one by using his boat-anchor for a hook.

Although they come thus to the surface to feed, the Goose Fish is emphatically a bottom- loving
species. _ "It is adapted," writes the Duke of Argyle, " for concealment at the bottom of the sea
for lying perfectly flat on the sand or among the weeds with its cavernous jaws ready for a snap.
For more perfect concealment, every bit of the creature is imitative both in form and in coloring.
The whole upper surface is mottled and tinted in such close resemblance to stones and gravel
and sea-weeds that it becomes quite undistinguishable among them. In order to complete the
method of concealment, the whole margins of the fish, and the very edge of the lips and jaws, have
loose tags and fringes which wave and sway about amid the currents of water, so as to look exactly
like the smaller alga? which move around them and along with them. Even the very ventral fins
of this devouring deception, which are thick, strong, and fleshy, almost like hands, and which
evidently help in a sudden leap, are made like two great clam-shells, while the iris of the eyes is
so colored in lines radiating from the pupil as to look precisely like some species of Patella or
limpet. But this is not all ; not only is concealment made perfect to enable the Lophius to catch
the unwary, but there is a bait provided to attract the hungry and the inexperienced. From
the top of the head proceeds a pair, or two pair, of slender elastic rods, like the slender tips of a
fishing-rod^ ending in a little membrane or web which glistens in the water and is attractive to other
fish. When they come to bite, or even to look, they are suddenly engulfed, for portals open with a
rush and close again portals over which the inscription may well be written: 'Lasciate ogni
speranza voi cW entrate.' 1 '"

From the time of ^Dlian every popular essay on the " Habits of Fish " or " Curious Fishes" has
told how the Angler entices its prey with its long tentacles. No one has ever seen the perform-
ance, and, although the theory is not altogether incredible, it seems more probable that the tops

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 32 of 146)