Latin name

Archosargus probatocephalus

Other names

Convict fish, sheepshead seabream; Portuguese: sargo; Spanish: sargo chopa.


The body is comparatively short and high. Head is high. Mouth almost horizontal, small or medium-sized, teeth wide and flat for crushing shells of crustaceans and mollusks. Jaw with wide incisor teeth in front and large chewing teeth on each side, arranged in three rows on the upper jaw and in two rows on the lower jaw. The soft parts of the dorsal and anal fins are short and rounded. The basic color of the fish is black, including the fins, but the sides and tail fin alternately striped with broad stripes of silver and black. The stripes are most noticeable in young fish.


This species is found from Nova Scotia to Florida and the northern part of the Gulf of Mexico. Southward to Brazil, excluding the Bahamas and West Indies.


Bottom coastal fish inhabiting the sea and entering estuaries, brackish and fresh waters. In the sea it lives in seagrass and algae thickets, on rocky, sandy and silty-sandy soils. Prefers to stay near rocks and artificial structures (piers, breakwaters, etc.). In the sea, it is found at depths of less than 100 m.


On average weighs about a pound, but can reach a weight of 25 pounds, and its length reaches 3 feet. It is 76 cm long and weighs 14 kg. The catches are usually dominated by fish 28-38 cm long and weighing 0.5-0.9 kg.

Life history and Behavior

The spawning season lasts from February to April.

Food and feeding habits

They eat algae, higher plants, worms, bivalves and gastropods, ostracods, copepods, amphipods, shrimps, crabs. The food of adult fish consists mainly of mollusks and crustaceans. The gadflies consume mollusks and crustaceans. They feed on fish, often gather in flocks, and feed near the pilings of jetties and docks, and may also be on the rocky bottom and in other places where they can find oysters and mussels.


Fertility of more than 1.5 million eggs. The eggs are pelagic. The diameter of hatching eggs is 0.75-0.80 mm. The larvae hatch 40 hours after fertilization when the water temperature is 22-25 °C. The yolk bladder is resolved at the same time. The yolk bladder dissolves at a larval length of 4.5 mm. The fry look like adult fish at 30 mm in length.

Phylum Chordata
Class Teleostei
Squad Perciformes
Family Sparidae
Genus Archosargus
Species Probatocephalus
Conservation status No information
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years No information
Maximum body weight, kg 9
Maximum length, cm 91
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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Tags: Sheepshead