Sea Goblin

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Species group:

Other common names: Northern Sea Robin; Searobin; Common Gurnard; Common Searobin; Wingfish

Scientific name: Prionotus carolinus

The basics:
The Sea Goblin is a bottom dweller that uses finger-like rays on its pectoral fins and its spiny plated head to root out crustaceans, worms, and mollusks from the sand. When on the bottom, they sometimes lie with the fanlike pectorals spread. They also swim actively, usually with the pectorals closed against the body. They are called the Common Gurnard because they produce a loud, grunting, drumming sound by vibrating their swim bladder. The Sea Goblin has a voracious appetite. They are edible, too.

The Sea Goblin has a long, rounded body which is covered with bony plates. Its name comes from the elongated fanlike pectoral fins, the first two or three rays of which are separate and act as feelers. The Sea Goblin searches for crustaceans and other small prey with these rays. The rays also serve as feet and can be used to manipulate objects. The pectoral fins give the fish a large wing span. The front margin of the upper jaw is concave in outline, not convex as it is in most other fishes, which gives the nose of the Sea Goblin a characteristic structure. The Sea Goblin has rough head plates and one sharp spine on each cheek at the angle of the gill cover. It also has two short spines over each eye pointing backward, a spine on either side of the neck, and one spine on each shoulder above the base of the pectoral fin. The spiny and soft-rayed portions of the dorsal fin are separate, but close together at their bases and almost merge. The caudal fin is of moderate size and its margin is slightly concave. The anal fin is similar in outline to the soft dorsal under which it stands. The pectorals are rounded in outline and are so large that they overlap the anal and the second dorsal when they are laid back. The anal and ventral fins too have one spine each. The ventral fins are large and are close behind the pectorals. The Sea Goblin can have a grey back or its back can be a blend of browns and reds. It also has around five dark saddle-like blotches along the back, and has dirty white or pale yellow underparts. The dorsal fins are grayish, marked with pale spots and stripes. The caudal fins are a uniform grayish or brownish; the anal fins are a plain brown; and the ventral fins are plain yellow to brown. The pectoral fins are yellow or orange, strikingly marked with two broad dusky bars, and the pectoral filaments are orange. The Sea Goblin has eyes that rest very high on the head.

15-16 inches


The Sea Goblin should be housed in a 100-gallon (or larger) aquarium with a sand bed. These fishes occasionally walk across the sand bed in search of food. They also need the sand to bury themselves in when disturbed. Coral, rock, or plants give the Sea Goblin a place to hide and feel secure.

72.00-78.00 °F


57.140-85.710 mg/L

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