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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 10:13 EDT

Black Scabbardfish, Aphanopus carbo

Image Credit: R Mintern/Wikipedia

The black scabbardfish is native to the North Atlantic Ocean in deep water ranging from the Southern United States to Northern Africa, and heavily populated around Greenland and Iceland. The depth range of the adult of this species is from 600 feet to a mile, and the juvenile depth range is from 300 – 3,000 feet.

The body of the black scabbardfish is elongated, coppery black in color, with a large snout, and fang-like teeth inside the mouth. The dorsal fin has 34 – 41 spines, with 52 – 56 soft rays, and the anal fin has two spines and 43 – 48 soft rays. On the juvenile, the pelvic fins consist of a single spine, but completely absent in the adult. The average length of an adult black scabbardfish is 27 inches, but can reach a length of up to 43 inches.

The black scabbardfish will migrate to mid-water depths at night to feed on plankton, crustaceans, squid, and other fish.

Little is known about the breeding habits of this species, but it has been established that the eggs are laid mid-water and when hatched the larvae will stay at mid-water depths until maturity.

The black scabbardfish is heavily fished commercially as a prize food in the region of Madeira, but is also taken around the British Isles, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and at Corner Rise. As a result this species is vulnerable to over fishing.

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Trichiuridae

Black Scabbardfish Aphanopus carbo