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Eyed Flounder fish identification, Habitats, Fishing methods, fish characteristics

Eyed Flounder, family Bothidae, a small species of Lefteye flounders with distinguish 2 caudal fin spots are located one above the other. They range in Atlantic coast of the USA from Long Island, NY, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, including Bermuda, Bahamas, parts of e and s Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean. Eyed Flounders are good food fishes, but they are of little commercial value due to their small size. They prefer shallow waters in protected areas over sand; usually around coral reefs, less frequently over mud. They burrow into sand or mud, behavior shared with other flatfishes.
Eyed Flounder Eyed Flounder , Bothus ocellatus, order Pleuronectiformes, family Bothidae, also known as Ocular flounder, chueco playón, miracielo, tapaculo or Lenguado de charo (Spanish), Rombou ocellée (French), linguado, solha or aramaçã (Portuguese) is found from Canada south to New York, Bermuda and into the northern Gulf of Mexico south to southern Brazil. It is widely distributed in Atlantic coast of the USA from Long Island to west Florida shelf; Bahamas, West Indies; eastern and southern Gulf of Mexico; Caribbean Sea; Tobago; Atlantic coast of South America to São Paulo, Brazil.
The very deep disc-shaped body is crossways highly compressed, depth two-thirds (61-67%) of standard length, resulting in a "flat fish". The eyed flounder has protruding eyes located on the left side of the head. The eyes are relatively large in size and well separated, more in males. Eye diameter is 5-6% of a standard length. Distance between eyes is about equal to eye diameter in adult males but less than eye diameter in juveniles and females. Males have a spine at the tip of the snout and a bony protuberance above the lower eye. The upper eye has a fleshy ridge along the posterior dorsal edge and the lower eye is anterior to the upper eye and has a fleshy ridge along the posterior dorsal edge. Maxilla is not reaching middle of lower eye; preopercle is visible. Head length is 24-26% of standard length, snout length 5-6%, upper jaw length 6-7%, eyed side pectoral fin length 16-25%, body depth 61-67%. Flounder Anatomy
The protractile mouth is asymmetrical and downturned with the upper jaw extending posteriorly to or slightly beyond the anterior margin of the lower eye. The teeth in the jaws are small and sharp pointed, arranged in two rows. There are no teeth present in the vomer or palatine. The dorsal fin is long and originates above or anterior to the upper eye and is separate from the caudal fin; the pectoral and pelvic fins are present on the eyed flounder. Pelvic fin base on eyed side is twice as long as on blind side. The anal fin originates anterior to pectoral fin base and is separate from the caudal fin. The single lateral line is located behind the upper eye distinctly arched over pectoral fin and is either faint or absent on blind side of the fish. Gill rakers on first arch of eyed side are short and number 0 to 6 on upper limb and 7 to 10 on lower limb. Pectoral fin on ocular side has 8 to 10 rays and is longer than blind side fin. Uppermost eyed side pectoral fin rays are elongated in mature males. Base of ocular side pelvic fin extends to tip of urohyal. Caudal fin is bluntly pointed. Scales are ctenoid on eyed side and cycloid on blind side.

Key characters

Eyed Flounder has a very deep body with a small mouth, widely separated eyes and distinct spotting and mottling on body. 3 diffuse dark blotches along lateral line and 2 small vertically placed black dots on caudal fin.
  • 76-91 dorsal fin rays
  • 58-68 anal fin rays
  • 8-10 Pectoral fin rays
  • 6 Pelvic fin rays
  • 17 Caudal fin rays
  • 0-6 Upper Gill Rakers on First Arch
  • 7-10 Lower Gill Rakers on First Arch
  • 70-78 Lateral line scales
  • 10 Precaudal vertebrae
  • 25-27 Caudal vertebrae
  • Maximum size 7.1 in. (18 cm), common 4.7 in (12 cm).
  • Eyed Flounder Anatomy

    The eyed flounder is dark brown to whitish, light tan or gray with irregular spots, bluish blotches or pale ring-like markings on the eyed side while the blind side is typically pale, white. Spots and mottling on the body is fairly distinct, some of which are dark-edged. Scattered small dark spots and 3 diffuse dark blotches are located along straight portion of lateral line with the middle one the best defined. The caudal fin lacks 2 large vertically placed black spots on the distal portion of the median fin rays. If spots are present on the caudal fin, they are located one above the other. Eyed flounders have the ability to change coloration to assist in camouflage, surface markings changed within 2 to 8 seconds to closely resemble new backgrounds. This is an evolutionary adaption for avoid predation as well as to sneak up on prey.
        Eyed flounder is a closely related species that may be confused with the Twospot flounder (Bothus robinsi). It can be distinguished from the Twospot flounder by the arrangement of two spots on the caudal fin with one located anterior to the other while the eyed flounder caudal fin spots are located one above the other. The body coloration of the Twospot flounder is generally darker with less pronounced spotting and mottling than the eyed flounder.

    Eyed Flounder lives in sandy areas with coral rubble or sea-grass beds nearby, typically near patch reefs. It is found in shallow coastal waters from 3-360 feet (1-110 m) in depth but more commonly at depths to 165 feet (50 m). It lies motionless on the soft bottom substrate unless started, moving only when scared. Attracted to lights, the larvae of this species are difficult to see because they are transparent.
        Eyed flounders feed mostly on small fishes along with crustaceans such as crabs, shrimps, amphipods and mantis shrimp as well as polychaetes.

    Eyed flounder spawn during the whole year. Social organization is harem, with males defending a territory containing several females. Males have increased body length, larger left pectoral fin and greater interorbital distance. Mating groups or harems consisted of one male and from 1 to 6 females with each female occupying distinct area within the male's territory. Courtship behavior begins approximately one hour before sunset with spawning beginning at sunset when the male retired for the night. Both males and females retired into the sand at locations outside their daytime territory. Every day, males attempted to mate with each female individually within their territory. The male positions himself under the female who was resting on the sandy bottom and followed by the pair slowly rising towards the surface to 15-75cm above the sandy substrate. There is a paired release of gametes from both the male and female. The male releases a cloud of sperm at the apex and descends while the female hangs and releases her eggs into the sperm cloud. This spawning activity continued with the male attempting to mate daily with each female within its harem in its territory.
        Eyed flounder start life as pelagic fishes with bilateral symmetry with an eye on each side of the head. During larval development, flatfishes go through a metamorphosis during which one eye migrates from one side of the head to the other so that both eyes are eventually positioned on the same side of the head which is determined by the species.
        The eggs and larvae are often consumed by jellyfish, ctenophores, worms, shrimps, and fish during their time in the plankton. Young flounders are fed upon by crabs, shrimps, and other fish while juvenile and adult flounder fall prey to many predatory fishes including cod, sculpin, striped bass, bluefish, cobia, groupers, moray eels, skates, stingrays, and sharks.

    Fishing Methods:
    Eyed flounder is of minor commercial importance due to its small size. They are often taken as by catch in the shrimp trawl fisheries within its range; however they are considered a nuisance species because they become quite entangled in the nets and cannot be easily removed.
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