Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes
(Perch-likes) > Trichiuridae
(Cutlassfishes) > Trichiurinae
Etymology: Trichiurus: Greek, thrix = hair + Greek, oura = tail (Ref. 45335); lepturus: Specific name from Greek 'lepturus', for its thin or slender tail. More on author: Linnaeus.
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Marine; brackish; benthopelagic; amphidromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 0 - 589 m (Ref. 58018), usually 100 - 350 m (Ref. 35388). Subtropical; 49°N - 54°S, 114°W - 180°E (Ref. 54931)
Circumtropical and temperate waters of the world. Trichiurus japonicus which was originally described from Japan as Trichiurus lepturus japonicus was synonymized with Trichiurus lepturus. Another nominal species synonymized with Trichiurus lepturus is Trichiurus nitens from the eastern Pacific Ocean (California to Peru).
Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm 50.6, range 30 - 99 cm
Max length : 234 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 26340); common length : 100.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 26999); max. published weight: 5.0 kg (Ref. ); max. reported age: 15 years (Ref. 7142)
soft rays: 100 - 105. Body extremely elongate, compressed and tapering to a point. Mouth large with a dermal process at the tip of each jaw. Dorsal fin relatively high; anal fin reduced to minute spinules usually embedded in the skin or slightly breaking through; anterior margin of pectoral fin spine not serrated. Pelvic and caudal fins absent. Lateral line beginning at the upper margin of the gill cover, running oblique to behind the tip of the pectoral fins, then straight close to the ventral contour. Fresh specimens steely blue with silvery reflections, becoming uniformly silvery gray sometime after death (Ref. 6181).
Generally over muddy bottoms of shallow coastal waters (Ref. 9351). Often enter estuaries (Ref. 9351). Juveniles feed mostly on euphausiids, small pelagic planktonic crustaceans and small fishes; adults feed mainly on fishes and occasionally on squids and crustaceans (Ref. 6181). Adults and juveniles have opposing complementary vertical diurnal feeding migration. Large adults usually feed near the surface during the daytime and migrate to the bottom at night. Juveniles and small adults form schools 100 m above the bottom during the daytime and form loose feeding aggregations at night near the surface. Pelagic eggs (Ref. 35388) and larvae (Ref. 6768). Max weight of 1.5 kg given in Ref. 28023 seems too low. The current angling world record was caught in Rio de Janeiro's Guanabara Bay and weighed 3.69 kg. Commercial fisherman have caught fish of up to 5 kg (Capt. Eduardo Baumeier, pers. Comm., 2001). Marketed salted or dried and also frozen (Ref. 9351). Excellent taste when fried or grilled; also for sashimi when fresh.
Nakamura, I. and N.V. Parin, 1993. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 15. Snake mackerels and cutlassfishes of the world (families Gempylidae and Trichiuridae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the snake mackerels, snoeks, escolars, gemfishes, sackfishes, domine, oilfish, cutlassfishes,. scabbardfishes, hairtails, and frostfishes known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(15):136 p. (Ref. 6181)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 123251)
CITES (Ref. 118484)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: highly commercial; gamefish: yes
Estimates based on models
Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969
): 10.1 - 23.2, mean 15.2 °C (based on 1178 cells).
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5020 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00039 (0.00031 - 0.00048), b=3.14 (3.08 - 3.20), in cm total length, based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245
Trophic level (Ref. 69278
): 4.4 ±0.4 se; based on diet studies.
Generation time: 3.8 (2.7 - 4.7) years. Estimated as median ln(3)/K based on 21 growth studies.
Resilience (Ref. 120179
): Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.25-0.29; tm=2-3.7; tmax=15; Fec=21,672).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): High vulnerability (57 of 100) .