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

The Mexican flounder (Cyclopsetta chittendeni) is a member of the left-eyed flounder family Paralichthyidae (Sand flounders), is one of the excellent table fish in a family. The average fish is 2 - 3 pounds weight and length 10 to 14 inches. Mexican flounder are bottom-dwelling predators, usually burrowing partially or almost entirely in sand or soft mud. They are capable of a rapid change in coloration which allows them to match their background almost perfectly. Most appear to feed on or near the bottom, but some of the larger species will rise off the bottom to capture prey.
Gulf Flounder Mexican flounder, Cyclopsetta chittendeni, also known as flounder, flatfish, is a marine fish widely distributed Northern and western Gulf of Mexico, Jamaica, western and southern shores of the Caribbean to Trinidad, and south to Guarujá, São Paulo State, Brazil. Most occur in bays, lagoons and shallow coastal waters at depths from 18 to 150 m. Mexican flounder is an abundant fish species usually caught as a shrimp by-catch in the north of the Gulf of Mexico.
The Mexican flounder has oval, moderately elongate and very thin body (depth 2.1 to 2.5 in length), with lateral line only slightly anteriorly and large round spots on ocular side of dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. Dorsal profile of head is evenly convex.
Both eyes are on the left side, not large with diameter 1/5th of the head length. Eyes are close set and separated by a moderately narrow concave ridge, and upper eye is directly above lower eye. The inter-orbital space is narrow, less than half the eye diameter. Their head length is 26 to 29% of a body length, snout length is 5 to 6%, orbit diameter is 5 to 6%, upper jaw length is 14 to 15%, ocular-side pectoral fin length is 13 to 15%, and body depth is 45 to 49% of body length.
Flounder Anatomy
    The mouth is large, with upper jaw extending slightly beyond vertical through the posterior margin of the lower eye and lower jaw possessing angular process on ventral aspect of symphysis. Jaws are symmetrical, and teeth are relatively large and symmetrically arranged. Jaw teeth are slender, sharp pointed, large canine-like in anterior section than in posterior section of jaws, and arranged in a single row. Gill rakers on first arch are short, broad based, and covered with teeth.
    Dorsal-fin origin is distinctly anterior to vertical through anterior margin of eyes, with first several rays slightly longer than more posterior rays and partially free of membranes. Caudal fin is rounded; its margin is obtusely angled. Pectoral fin on ocular side has oblique distal margin. Pelvic fin bases are short, and that of ocular-side fin inserts on midline and is slightly posterior to that of blind-side fin. Scales on both sides are cycloid and adherent. Lateral line on eyed side is not steeply arched above pectoral fin.

Key characters

3 large spots along rear edge of caudal fin and none in center. Large black blotch is on the body, under pectoral fin. Dorsal and anal fins have several large black blotches. Upper jaw extends past rear edge of lower eye. Eyes separated by a moderately narrow, curved in ridge. Pelvic fin bases are short.
  • The eyes are on the left side.
  • 82 to 90 Dorsal Fin Rays.
  • 63 to 69 Anal Fin Rays.
  • 14 to 16 Pectoral Fin Rays.
  • 74 to 80 scales in lateral line.
  • 8 to 9 gill rakers on lower limb of 1st gill arch.
  • 3 to 5 gill rakers on upper limb.
  • Maximum size is 1 ft. (32 cm), common 25cm.
  • Mexican Flounder Anatomy

        Ocular side is brown, with a large black blotch under pectoral fin. The dorsal and anal fins have a row of dark spots containing pale areas, 2 dark spots on the dorsal and a few on the anal are large. The caudal fin has 3 large dark spots at the posterior margin, none on center of the fin. Blind side is white.

    The Mexican flounder Inhabits the inner continental shelf from 18 to 150 m. Occurs in bays, lagoons and shallow coastal waters. Found on soft bottoms. They feed primarily on amphipods, mysids and other small crustaceans at smaller sizes; at larger sizes feeds primarily on fish.

    Females mature by age 2 at sizes as small as 14.5 cm; size at 50% maturity is 35 to 38 cm total length. The average length of 2-year-old individuals is around 35 cm, and the average length of 3-year-olds to be about 40 cm. Males attains maturity at 30 to 35 cm total length. Spawning occurs offshore in the Gulf of Mexico at depths of 20 to 60m during late autumn and winter; highest spawning frequency observed during late-October to mid-December in Texas, with spawning activity tapering off in February. Larvae and young migrate inshore during January and February with February being the month of maximum immigration (water temperatures about 16C). Females grow faster and attain larger sizes than do males.
        Larval Mexican flounder appear in the eastern Gulf of Mexico from December to early March, and juveniles are seen in bays and estuaries in January throughout their range, with peak movement usually occurring in early February. Juvenile Mexican flounder begin immigrating into Aransas Bay when water temperatures reach 14-16 C.

    Fishing Methods:
    Mexican flounder (Cyclopsetta chittendenni) is an abundant fish species usually caught as a shrimp by-catch in the north of the Gulf of Mexico. Regarded as the most common large flatfish taken by shrimp trawlers off the Texas coast. Most of the catch is processed frozen, but fresh fish occasionally appears in markets.
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