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Sheepshead Fish~~ The Fish with Human Teeth

November 30, 2021

Sheepshead Fish~~ The Fish with Human Teeth

Archosargus probatocephalus sheepshead fish is a marine fish belonging to the family Sparidae. The fish gets its name due to the teeth that resemble sheep’s teeth. Sheepshead fish is also called convict fish. They are also known to maintain the ecological balance of the oceans.

General Characteristics:

Body Shape and Body Color:

The body is deep and compressed. The body is white grayish, or yellow with seven black vertical stripes.

Body Size and Body Weight:

The fish reaches a maximum length of 30 inches (76 cm), and the maximum weight is about 22 pounds.

Mouth and Teeth:

The sheephead has a short blunt snout with a horizontal mouth, and the back of the head is slightly up.

The fish has stubby teeth with a hard mouth. The teeth of the fish resemble human teeth. The incisors, molars, and grinders are well developed. The powerful jaws and strong teeth help them to crush the shell of the fishes they feed on.

Fins and Tail:

The dorsal and anal fins have spines. The dorsal fin spines are short but sharp.

The fins have different colors; the caudal and pectoral fins have a greenish shade, while the dorsal, anal, and ventral fins are black or grayish.

The tail of the sheepshead fish is forked.

Range of Sheepshead Fish:

The fish's greatest concentration is throughout Florida. However, Sheepshead is generally found along the Atlantic and Gulf coast of the United States.

The range of the fish is from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, from the Gulf of Mexico down to Brazil.

Habitat of Sheepshead Fish:

Sheepshead is a structure seeking fish and normally inhibits the rocks, the mouths of tidal creeks, oyster reefs, pilings, piers, muddy shallows, jetties, and mangroves. Sheephead is generally known as nearshore fish. However, they can also thrive in brackish waters.

The fish normally do not show migratory behaviors but move to offshore water for the warm water to do spawning.

The fish is regarded as euryhaline species, meaning they can survive at certain water conditions like salinity from 0 to 35 PPT. They are intolerant of pollution and low oxygen levels. 

Diet of Sheepshead Fish:

Sheepshead fish, being omnivores, eat almost every organic matter in the sea. The diet also depends upon location, food availability, weather, and age. Mollusks are the staple food of sheephead fish. They have a diverse diet, and it may consist of,

  • Vertebrates
  • Plant material
  • Invertebrates
  • Sea worms
  • Echinoderms
  • Protozoan
  • Oysters
  • Crabs
  • Barnacles
  • Clams

How to Catch Sheepshead Fish:

Methods of Catching:

Several methods can catch sheepshead as,

  • Jig Fishing
  • Chumming
  • Drift Fishing
  • Spin Casting
  • Still Fishing
  • Bait Casting

Baits and Lures Used For Sheepshead Catching:

The best time to catch sheepshead is the summer spawning season. 

Using live baits is the best choice to catch the powerful fish. Mole crabs, fiddler crabs, clams, squids, sand fleas, shrimp, oyster crabs, worms are normally used as bait.

Tackle For Catching Sheepshead Fish:

Sheephead is an excellent eating fish and can be easily caught using the spinning rod of medium power. However, the anglers need to be very careful and active to respond to the slightest movement of their lines.


Humans enjoy eating sheepshead due to their mild palatable taste and white flesh.


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