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Atlantic tripletails are found coastally in most, but not all, tropical and subtropical seas. They are semi-migratorial and pelagic. Normally solitary, they have been known to form schools. They can be found in bays, sounds, and estuaries during the summer. Juveniles are usually found swimming under patches of Sargassum algae. Adults are usually found in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico but can also be found in passes, inlets, and bays near river mouths. The fishes are also often found in or near shipwrecks, beams or supports, jetties, and sea buoys. Larvae are usually found in waters that exceed temperatures of 84 F (29 C), greater than 30.3 salinity, and more than 230 feet (70 m) deep.

Atlantic tripletails have scales that extend onto the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins and a head profile that concaves as the fish ages. It has a compressed but deep body with a triangle-shaped head. The eyes are small but the mouth is large. The bases of the dorsal and anal fins are scaled and the pectoral fins are shorter than the pelvic fins. The name "tripletail" is given because of the fish's three rounded fins: dorsal, caudal, and anal.

Juvenile Atlantic tripletails are colored a mottled yellow, brown, and black. Adults are jet black. When it lies on its side at the surface, the tripletail is sometimes confused for a floating mangrove leaf. The juveniles have white pectoral fins and a white margin on the caudal fin. Adult tripletails have varied mottled color patterns which range from dark brown to reddish brown, often with a tint of gray.

Atlantic tripletails are opportunistic eaters. This means that they feed on a variety of things, mostly small finfish like gulf menhaden, Atlantic bumpersss, and anchovies. They also feed on invertebrates like blue crabs and brown shrimp, as well as other benthic crustaceans.

Spawning primarily occurs in the summer along both the Atlantic and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coasts, with peaks during the months of July and August. Large congregations of tripletail during the summer months in the inshore and nearshore waters of coastal Georgia suggest that this area is a critical estuarian spawning habitat for the species. Larval Atlantic tripletails go though four levels of development; preflexion, flexion, postflexion, and transformation. By the time the larvae reach 0.16 inches (4 mm), they have large eyes and a concave head. The larval forms of Atlantic tripletails resemble those of boarfishes, some jacks, spadefishes and bass.

Information courtesy of Wikipedia



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