Tautogolabrus adspersus

Picture of a cunner

Image by ‘derekkeats’ on Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.0

Physical: The cunner is a type of wrasse with a long dorsal fin that has spines in the front and becomes rounder toward the back. It closely resembles the tautog, but is smaller in size with a pointier snout and thinner lips. On average they grow to about 10 in (25 cm). They come in a wide variety of colors, from rust red, to brown, to gray-green.

Habitat: The cunner is a coastal fish, ranging from Newfoundland to parts of the Chesapeake Bay. They can be found in eelgrass beds and sheltering around piers, docks, and rocks. In the winter, they will enter torpor and “hibernate” in their shelter sites until the water warms again in spring.

Feeding: Cunners are omnivorous fish and opportunistic feeders. They will eat molluscs, shellfish, smaller fish, and eelgrass.

Breeding: The spawning season lasts from late spring to early summer. Cunner eggs are buoyant and will incubate for 2-3 days, depending on the water temperature.

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