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Species guide

Saint Peter´s fish

Scientific name: Zeus faber

DESCRIPTION:

St. Peter’s fish is characterised as having a laterlally compressed body with a high back, highly prominent jaws and needles in its strong, long fins. The colouring is between grey and yellow with blurred stains on either side of the body.

They are normally 25 to 30 cm in size and its maximum size is 50 cm.

BIOLOGY:

This is an animal that lives alone or in small groups and is sometimes gregarious (with sardines, etc.). It often rests on the bed on one of its sides. It feeds on small gregarious fish and squid and is therefore carnivorous. It may rest on the bed and shake its dorsal filaments, using them as bait. It is also able to slowly approach its victims, attacking them rapidly and catching them with its beak forward. Its reproduction is oviparous. The spawning takes place in summer in shallow waters. In warmer waters spawning occurs in spring. The older and larger individuals remain close to the breeding area, but the young go further away. The eggs and larvae are benthonic (they remain on the bed).

HABITAT:

St. Peter’s fish lives on sandy beds, from the continental surface to 200 m in depth. The fry are found near rocky areas in the summer, where the algae grow.

DISTRIBUTION:

It is found in the Mediterranean and the eastern Atlantic (from Scotland to Western Africa).

STATUS:

Species not evaluated (according to the red list of threatened species).

CURIOSITIES:

St. Peter’s fish owes its name to the round stain it has on either side and which, according to tradition, represents the mark of the Apostle’s fingers, who caught the animal by Christ’s orders to take the piece of gold from its mouth to pay the taxes.

It causes vibrations with the swimming bladder.