Brassy Chub, Kyphosus vaigiensis
The Brassy Chub, Kyphosus vaigiensis, whose common Spanish name is chopa amarilla when found in the Atlantic and chopa rayada when found in the Pacific, is a member of the Sea Chub or Kyphosidae Family, known collectively as chopas in Mexico. Very recently, the Yellow Chub, Kyphosus incisor from the Atlantic and the Blue-Bronze Chub, Kyphosus analogus from the Pacific were deemed to be the same species, thus the common name was changed to Brassy Chub and the species name formally changed to Kyphosus vaigiensis. Globally, there are thirteen species in the genus Kyphosus, seven of which are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic, three in the Pacific, and one in both.
The Brassy Chubs have oval compressed bodies with a depth that is 38 to 45% of standard length. They are bluish-gray and have 23 to 29 prominent narrow brassy colored stripes between each scale row with the stripes above the lateral line following the curve of the lateral line. They also have two gold or brassy stripes, the first extending through the eyes and the second located under the eyes. They have a small pointed head with a relatively long snout and a small horizontal mouth that opens at the front. They have small incisor-like teeth set horizontally in their mouth as well as teeth on the center of the roof of their mouth and on their tongue. Their teeth have rounded tips and an overall hockey stick shape. Their anal fin has 3 spines and 13 or 14 rays that are low and of uniform height; their caudal fin is forked; and their dorsal fin is continuous with 10 or 11 spines that fold down into a grove and 13 to 15 rays. Their pectoral and pelvic fins are short and the pelvic fins are behind the pectoral fins. They have 29 gill rakers. Their body is covered with small, thick, and rough scales.
In the Atlantic the Brassy Chubs are found in shallow coastal waters over Sargassum grass and sandy or rocky bottoms adjacent to coral reefs at depths up to 50 feet. They reach a maximum length of 90 cm (35 inches) and weight of 3.9 kg (8.6 pounds). They feed on benthic algae and Sargassum grass. In the Pacific the Brassy Chubs are schooling fish found over reefs at depths up to 60 feet. They reach a maximum length of 45 cm (18 inches). They are omnivores and feed on benthic algae, plankton, and small invertebrates. Reproduction is oviparous.
In Mexican waters the Brassy Chubs are found in all Mexican waters of both the Atlantic and the Pacific and have recently gained renewed scientific interest due their documented presence in Greek waters.
The Brassy Chub is straightforward to identify and cannot be confused with any other species.
The Brassy Chub can be easily confused with the Cortez Sea Chub, Kyphosus elegans (deeper body; body width 48 to 52% of standard length; less prominent stripes) from the Pacific.
The Brassy Chubs are caught primarily by nets and marketed fresh; they are considered an excellent food fish. They can be quality game fish on light tackle with small hooks. Care in cleaning is essential to avoid contamination with their foul-smelling guts.
Brassy Chub, Kyphosus vaigiensis. Fish caught from coastal Hawaiian waters, October 2017. Length: 22 cm (8.7 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Brassy Chub, Kyphosus vaigiensis. Fish caught off the Anglin’s Pier, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida, February 2016. Length: 23 cm (9.0 inches). Catch, photo, and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Brassy Chub, Kyphosus vaigiensis. Fish caught from shore at Km 21, Cabo Real, Baja California Sur, January 2008. Length: 35 cm (14 inches). First picture taken upon collection. Second picture taken one hour later.
Brassy Chub, Kyphosus vaigiensis. Fish caught from coastal waters off Key Largo, Florida, December 2013. Length: 18.3 cm (7.2 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Ben Cantrell, Peoria, IL.
Brassy Chub, Kyphosus vaigiensis. Fish caught from coastal Hawaiian waters, October 2017. Length: 24 cm (9.4 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Brassy Chub, Kyphosus vaigiensis. Fish caught from shore at Los Barriles, Baja California Sur, January 2017. Length: 30 cm (12 inches). Catch courtesy of Ian Franck, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada.