Cubbyu, Pareques umbrosus

The Cubbyu, Pareques umbrosus, whose common Spanish name is payasito prieto, is a member of the Croaker or Sciaenidae Family, known collectively as berrugatas or corvinas in Mexico. There are only seven global members of the genus Pareques, five of which are found Mexican waters, three in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific.

The Cubbyus have deep oblong moderately compressed bodies with a strongly arched back. They have a silvery gray-brown coloration that varies significantly with maturity. Adults are uniformly colored with many thin black stripes. Juveniles are white with black stripes, a black bar on their dorsal and pelvic fins, an oval black ring on their snout, and transparent pectoral fins. Their head has a snout that overhangs a horizontal mouth and large eyes. They are equipped with a band of teeth; the teeth on the outer row of their lower jaw are enlarged and canine-like. Their anal fin has two spines, the second being slender, and seven rays. Their caudal fin is rounded. Their dorsal fin has a long base, with the first dorsal fin being higher than the second dorsal fin and having a deep notch between the nine or ten spines and the one spine and 38 to 40 rays. They have 15 to 18 short and slender gill rakers. Their lateral line extends to the center of the caudal fin and they are covered with rough scales.

The Cubbyus are found within rocky reef habitats and adjacent sandy and muddy bottoms at depths up to 350 feet. They reach a maximum length of 20.0 cm (7.9 inches). They are a poorly studied species and limited information is available about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Cubbyus are found in all Mexican waters of the Atlantic with the exception that they are absent from hee east coast of the Yucatán.

Adult Cubbyus are straightforward to identify and cannot be confused with any other species. Juveniles, however, are very similar to the Blackbar Drum, Pareques iwamotoi (broad bars across eyes), the High-Hat, Pareques acuminatus (three to five broad stripes with narrow stripes in between), the Jackknife-Fish, Equetus lanceolatus (elongated dorsal fins anteriorly), and the Spotted Drum, Equetus punctatus (spotted anal, caudal, and dorsal fins).

The Cubbyus are too rare and too small to be of interest to most.

Cubbyu, Pareques umbrosus. Fish caught out from coastal waters off  Anna Maria Island, Florida, March 2015. Length: 17.8 cm (7.0 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.