Slender Croaker

Slender Croaker, Micropogonias ectenes

The Slender Croaker, Micropogonias ectenes, whose common Spanish name is chano Mexicano, is a species in the Croaker or Sciaenidae Family, known collectively as berrugatas and corvinas in Mexico. There are only six global members of the genus  Micropogonias, three of which are found Mexican waters, all in the Pacific.

The Slender Croakers have elongated moderately compressed bodies. They have a silvery coloration with a brassy hue; their upper sides have dark oblique steaks that extend upwards and backwards along the scale rows. Their fins are transparent and similar in color to the body of the fish. Their head has a prominent snout, a small mouth with thin lips and simple teeth, moderately-sized eyes, four small barbels along the inner side of the lower jaw, and a strong serrated gill cover with two prominent spines. Their anal fin has two spines, the second being robust and approximately three-fourths the length of the first anal ray, and 7 or 8 rays; their caudal fin has a short blunt point with a slightly concave upper lobe; their dorsal fin has 10 spines followed by another spine and 23 to 26 rays with the first dorsal fin just reaching the origin of the second dorsal fin when depressed. They have 22 or 24 gill rakers and their body is covered with large scales.

The Slender Croakers are a benthopelagic species found along sandy shores and in bays, estuaries, and lagoons at depths up to 110 feet. They reach a maximum length of 40 cm (16 inches), established by the fish photographed below. They are voracious ambush predators feeding on small fish and squid.

Although reported to be widespread in the Eastern Pacific the Slender Croaker in Mexican waters they are found from Magdalena Bay southward along the southwest coast of Baja, in the southern three-fourths of the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.

The Slender Croaker can be confused with the Golden Croaker, Micropogonias altipinnis (19 to 23 dorsal rays; yellow fins; maximum length 80 cm) and the Gulf Croaker, Micropogonias megalops (27 to 29 dorsal rays; dark fins; maximum length 40 cm).

The Slender Croakers are an esteemed food fish and are caught primarily with trawls and seines and sold fresh in local markets.

f254-slender-croaker-7Slender Croaker, Micropogonias ectenes, juvenile. Fish caught from coastal waters off Mazatlán, Sinaloa, October 2016. Length: 17 cm (6.7 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario Canada.

Slender Croaker (4)

Slender Croaker, Micropogonias ectenes, juvenile. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of Bahía Kino, Sonora, March 2015. Length: 22 cm (8.7 inches). Note the unusual strongly serrated gill cover in the photo above. Photo courtesy of Maria Johnson, Prescott College Kino Bay Center, Kino Bay, Sonora.

Slender Croaker, Micropogonias ectenes.  Fish caught off the dock of the Old Mazatlán Marina, Sinaloa, October 2017. Length: 25 cm (10 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Slender Croaker, Micropogonias ectenes. Fish caught in coastal waters adjacent to Roca Consag, San Felipe, Baja California, May 2015. Length: 35 cm (14 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of Chris Wheaton, Loreto, Fullerton, CA.

Slender Croaker (1)Slender Croaker (2)

Slender Croaker, Micropogonias ectenes. Fish caught from coastal waters off Mazatlán, Sinaloa, June 2013. Length: 64 cm (25 inches), 14 pounds. Photo courtesy of Jason Potts, Mazatlán. Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA and based on the dorsal fin ray counts in the photo above.