About This Fish


The tautog (Tautoga onitis) is also known as the blackfish, black porgy, Chinner etc. It belongs to the family Labridae under order Perciformes of class Actinopterygii. It is found in salt water from Nova Scotia to Georgia. It occurs in open water near rocky shores, pier docks and breakwaters, mussel beds while juvenile is observed near eelgrass and seaweed beds, rock and cobble bottoms.

The tautog's body is elongated, moderately deep and somewhat compressed with moderately slopping head and broad tail. Male and older fish are uniformly olive green, dark chocolate or black in color with irregular mottling along the sides while female and juvenile are paler in color with large mousy brown and grey mottling on the sides. It has a blunt snout with a small mouth. It has thick rubbery lips and powerful jaws. Body is covered with small scales but the cheeks and opercles are mostly scale less. The dorsal fin has 16 to 17 spines and 10 soft rays. The dorsal fin originates over the upper corner of the gill openings and runs back the whole length of the trunk. The anal fin contains 3 stout spines and 7 or 8 soft rays which correspond in outline to the soft portion of the dorsal fin. The caudal fin is slightly rounded at the corners. The pectoral fin is large and rounded while the pelvic fin is moderate in size with one stout spine. It is an opportunistic feeder and preys on a variety of invertebrates including barnacles, crustaceans, mussels and small fishes. It attains sexual maturity at the length between 18 and 26.5 cm. Spawning occurs offshore in late spring to early summer. It reaches up to 91 cm in length and 11 kg in weight. It can live up to 34 years.

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Location Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
New Jersey
Rhode Island