Genus Sparus

Sparus [Artedi] Linnaeus, 1758

Diagnosis: body oblong, rather deep. Preopercle scaleless. In both jaws, in front 46 canines with behind them and at back 2 4 rows of teeth, more obtuse, gradually becoming molars, the two outer rows much stronger; total gillrakers 11-13, 7-8 lower, (4) 5-6 upper. D Xl + 13 -14; A 111 + 11-12. Lateral line scales 73-85 to caudal base. Colour: silvery grey; large dark patch at origin of lateral line, overlapping upper part of opercle and underlined by a reddish area; golden curved bar across forehead, bordered by two dark zones, especially in adults; a longitudinal black line in middle of dorsal fin; caudal black-edged distally. Size: 70 cm SL, usually 30-35 cm.

Habitat: Iittoral on sandy bottoms and Posidonia beds and in breakers, juveniles to 30 m, adults to 150 m; euryhaline, entering brackish waters. Sedentary, solitary or in small groups. Food: carnivorous (molluscs— mainly mussels, crustaceans, fishes), additionally herbivorous. Reproduction: October-December; hermaphroditic protandrous; maturity at 1 2 years (20 30 cm) for males, 2-3 years (33 40 cm) for females; do not spawn in Black Sea.

Distribution: common throughout Mediterranean, less frequent in eastern and south-eastern Mediterranean, very rare in Black Sea; Atlantic from British Isles to Cape Verde Is and the Canaries.

Species 1.

Recent revision: Bianchi (1984).

Species of this genus in the program:
Sparus aurata