The Snook Family – Centropomidae
The fish of the Snook or Centropomidae Family are a group of shovel-nosed fish known in Mexico’s fishing areas as robalos. There are twenty-three global members of the Snook Family that have been placed in two genera. They and found in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. Six reside in Mexican waters of the Atlantic and six in Mexican waters of the Pacific. They range from 35 cm (14 inches) to 1.40 meters (4 feet 7 inches) in length and from 1 kg (2.2 pounds) to 26 kg (57 pounds) in weight. They are believed to date to the early Eocene Period, fifty-five million years ago.
The Snooks are medium-sized, unique-looking, and easy-to-identify silvery perch-like fish. They have oblong elongated compressed bodies with a concave head profile and a large protractile mouth with a protruding lower jaw. They have short anal fins with 3 short spines and 5 to 8 rays. Their caudal fin is forked. They have two separated dorsal fins, the first with 8 spines and the second with one spine and 8 to 11 rays. Their pelvic fins are inserted just behind their pectoral fin base and have one spine and 5 rays. They feature a characteristic prominent dark lateral line that extends into their caudal fin. They have large scales at the base of their pelvic fins.
The Snooks are a euryhaline (capable of adapting to various salinities) species found in a variety of habitats ranging from coral reefs to mangrove swamps and are also found in estuaries and freshwater streams. They are carnivores feeding on a wide variety of invertebrates and fish. Many Snooks are important as commercial food fish and as gamefish being a favorite target of fly fishermen.
Six Atlantic and six Pacific Snook species are currently recognized scientifically. Of these twelve species, only four are known to reach sizes in excess of ten pounds. The eight smaller Snooks species are usually less than six pounds and can be readily distinguished from the larger species by their noticeably longer anal spine, anal fin configuration, and body shape. The larger Snooks species have more streamlined appearances with longer and narrower body shapes. Gill raker counts are needed to correctly separate the two large Atlantic Snooks (Common Snook, Centropomus undecimalis and Mexican Snook, Centropomus poeyi). The large Pacific Snooks (Black Snook, Centropomus nigrescens and White Snook, Centropomus viridis) are somewhat easier to distinguish.
There are six members of the Snook Family, four from the Pacific and two from the Atlantic, currently presented in this website:
Black Snook, Centropomus nigrescens
Blackfin Snook, Centropomus medius
Common Snook, Centropomus undecimalis
Mexican Snook, Centropomus poeyi
White Snook, Centropomus viridis
Yellowfin Snook, Centropomus robalito