Channel Flounder

Channel Flounder, Syacium micrurum

The Channel Flounder, Syacium micrurum, whose common Spanish name is lenguado anillado, is a member of the Sand Flounder or Paralichtyidae Family, known collectively as lenguados areneros in Mexico. Globally, there are only eight members of the genus Syacium, six of which are found in Mexican waters, three in the Atlantic and three in the Pacific.  All family members are left-eyed fish and have either a straight or an arched lateral line.

The Channel Flounders have oval elongated bodies with a depth that is 37 to 41% of standard length. Their eye side is multicolored with various shades of tan and brown mottling. They have two dark blotches on their lateral line, the first under the tip of their pectoral fin and the second at their caudal base. Their blind side is yellow-white. Their head is short with mid-sized eyes set fairly close together with the lower eye being well before the upper eye. They have a notch on their snout before their top eye and a large mouth which ends under the middle of their lower eye. They have fixed teeth with two rows on their upper jaw and one row on their lower jaw with their front teeth being larger than their rear teeth. They have 64 to 74 anal rays and 82 to 92 dorsal rays. Their caudal fin is rounded. In males, the first two rays of the pectoral fins on the eye side are elongated. They are covered with large rough scales on their eye side and smooth scales on their blind side. The lateral line is straight.

The Channel Flounders are bottom dwellers found over and within sandy and muddy bottoms at depths between 40 and 1,300 feet. They reach a maximum length of 30 cm (12 inches). They are opportunistic and well-camouflaged ambush predators that lie in wait half submerged on the ocean floor. They prey on small fish and a wide variety of crustaceans.

The Channel Flounders are found in all Mexican waters of the Atlantic.

The Channel Flounder can be confused with the Dusky Flounder, Syacium papillosum (eyes widely separated; blue lines on head; pectoral fins with three or four dark bars) and the Shoal Flounder, Syacium gunteri (deep body; 46 to 50% of standard length).

The Channel Flounders are small, rare, and of limited interest to most.

Channel Flounder, Syacium micrurum. Fish caught from coastal waters off Key West, Florida, August 2014. Length: 16.5 cm (6.5 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Dean Kimberly, Atlanta, GA.