Marine - Species
SC Species Regulations for Atlantic Spadefish
Saltwater Fishing License required.
No state size or bag limits.
Federal Waters Limit: Not to exceed 20 per person per day in aggregate with all other snapper grouper complex species. No size limits or seasonal fishery closure.
Atlantic Spadefish (Chaetodipterus faber)
Silver-gray to yellowish; disc shaped, nearly as deep as long; sides with 4 – 6 black vertical bars that may fade with age. First rays of anal and second dorsal fins elongate, forming a point. First dorsal fin spiny. Mouth small.
12 - 18 inches, 6 pounds;
South Carolina State Record: 14 pounds, 2 ounces (2005);
maximum age: at least 8 years
- Both sexes mature by 1 year of age. Approx. size at maturity: males – 3 ¾ inches, females – 4 ¾ inches.
- Spawning occurs at the surface in offshore waters during May – September (peak May-June).
- Larvae inhabit warm, higher salinity nearshore coastal surface waters. Juveniles often utilize estuaries as nursery grounds.
- Generalist feeders during daylight on a wide variety of invertebrate prey. Foraging occurs throughout the water column, along bottom, and on, around, or within manmade structure.
- Prey includes sponges, polychaete and sabellid worms, tunicates, hydrozoans, soft corals, amphipods, anemones, algae, and crustacean larvae.
Availability/Vulnerability to Harvest
- Distribution is primarily temperature dependent. Present in nearshore waters April – November. Juveniles leave estuaries during fall and join adults in shallow offshore waters; younger fish may remain near offshore artificial reefs almost year-round. Older fish probably overwinter in deep water offshore; some may also move southward as nearshore waters cool during fall.
- Form schools of a few to several hundred fish. Strong schooling behavior in vicinity of manmade structure could increase vulnerability to fishing pressure.
- No commercial fishery exists in South Carolina.
- Conservation concerns: degradation or loss of nearshore larval habitat and estuarine nursery grounds; degradation or loss of limited nearshore live and hard bottom habitats; potential for overfishing; lack of knowledge regarding basic biology of spadefish in South Carolina waters.
Bell M. 2005. Atlantic spadefish. In: Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. Columbia, S.C., S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Available: https://www.dnr.sc.gov/cwcs/pdf/Atlanticspadefish.pdf. Accessed: September, 2009.
Ditty JG, RF Shaw, JS Cope. 1994. A re-description of Atlantic spadefish larvae, Chaetodipterus faber (family: Ephippidae), and their distribution, abundance, and seasonal occurrence in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Fish Bull 92: 262-274.
Hayse JW. 1987. Feeding habits, age, growth, and reproduction of Atlantic spadefish, Chaetodipterus faber (Pisces: Ephippidae), in South Carolina. Fish Bull 88: 67-83.
Schwartz FJ. 1998. Biological and ecological relationships for young Atlantic spadefish, Chaetodipterus faber (Pisces: Family Ephippidae) collected in the Cape Fear River estuary and adjacent waters, North Carolina, 1973 through 1978. J Elisha Mitchell Soc 114: 23-30.