Northern Kingfish

Menticirrhus saxatilis

Image by Robert Aguilar, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, CC BY 2.0

Physical: Kingfish are brown to dark brown with horizontal stripes. They reach an approximate average size of 10-14 inches at maturity. Some can grow up to 18 inches and weigh up to 3 pounds.

Habitat: M. saxatilis live in shallow coastal waters from Maine to Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico. They prefer areas with hard or sandy bottoms.

Feeding: Compared to other fish related to the Northern Kingfish, the smaller eyes, barbel, inferior mouth, and body shape indicate that it feeds primarily by using their senses of smell and touch.  They are bottom feeders that eat shrimp, small mollusks, worms, young fish, crabs and other crustaceans.

Breeding: Spawning ranges from April to August, with older fish tending to spawn first. Most males are mature by 2 yrs., females by 3 yrs. Their eggs float, and within 46 to 50 hours, they hatch in waters 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

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