Gobiesox strumosus

Picture of a skilletfish on a black table

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

Physical: The skilletfish gets its name from its frying-pan shaped body, with a broad flat head and a thinner tail. It is pale grey to dark brown in color, with a mottled pattern and six faint lines radiating out from the eyes. As a member of the clingfish family, it has a large suction cup made of modified pelvic fins on the underside of the body, which it uses to stick to hard surfaces. Adults grow to 3 in (7.6 cm).

Habitat: Their range spans from New Jersey to northern Gulf of Mexico, and south to Brazil. Also parts of the west coast of Mexico, in coastal lagoons and tidal flats. New Jersey marks the northernmost bound of this range, so most individuals in the Barnegat Bay are only present during the warmer summer months. Skilletfish are a brackish water species, living among oyster reefs or eelgrass beds.

Feeding: Feed on bristle worms and microscopic crustaceans (amphipods and isopods).

Breeding: Spawning takes place from April to August. Females lay sticky amber-colored eggs in empty oyster shells, which males then guard until they hatch.

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