Butterfish Family Photos and Information – Stromateidae

The Butterfish Family – Stromateidae

Pacific Pompano, Peprilus simillimus: a representative member of the Butterfish or Stromateidae Family.

The Butterfish or Stromateidae Family, known as palometas in Mexico, are small-sized fish with deep (slightly less than 50% of standard length) very compressed bodies that have similar upper and lower profiles. The Butterfish contain a high level of fat after which they are named. They reach a maximum length of 30 cm (12 inches). There are sixteen global species placed in three genera; six members of the family are found in Mexican waters, all from the Peprilus genus; two are residents of the Atlantic and four of the Pacific. Their head has a short blunt snout with a small mouth that extends only to the front edge of their small centrally-located eyes and features one row of small teeth. Their eyes are fairly large with a fatty ring. Their single anal and single dorsal fins have long bases; they are symmetrical with the front portions of both fins being similarly elongated. They have deeply forked caudal fins, long and pointed pectoral fins, and no pelvic fins. Their lateral line is high and follows the body profile. They are covered with small cycloid scales.

The Butterfish are pelagic fish found in large schools over sandy bottoms in all global tropical and temperate seas along the shoreline. They are silvery in color with a bluish cast on their back. They are harvested commercially with large nets. Juveniles are found around floating debris and plants and often in the presence of jellyfish which is believed to deter predation. They primarily consume pelagic crustaceans. Many species are considered important food fish. They are considered an adequate food fish although their flesh is fatty. They are usually cooked and eaten whole, including their bones. They are sold whole, fresh or frozen, and some species can be found in great abundance in California ethnic fish markets.

There are four members of the Butterfish or Stromateidae Family, one from the Atlantic and three from the Pacific, presented in this website:

Gulf Butterfish, Peprilus burti
Pacific Harvestfish, Peprilus medius
Pacific Pompano, Peprilus simillimus
Salema Butterfish, Peprilus synderi