FAO Home>Fisheries & Aquaculture
FAO of the UN
Lepidopus caudatus:   (click for more)

See tree map  display tree map
  • Lepidopus argenteus  Bonnaterre, 1788
  • Trichiurus ensiformis  Vandelli, 1797
  • Lepidopus gouanianus  Lacepède, 1800
  • Trichiurus gladius  Holten, 1802
  • Vandellius lusitanicus  Shaw, 1803
  • Lepidopus peronii  Risso, 1810
  • Scarcina argyrea  Rafinesque, 1810
  • Ziphotheca tetradens  Montague, 1811
  • Lepidopus xantusi  Goode and Bean, 1895
  • Lepidopus lex  Phillips, 1932
    FAO Names
    En - Silver scabbardfish, Fr - Sabre argenté, Sp - Pez cinto.
    3Alpha Code: SFS     Taxonomic Code: 1750600601
    Diagnostic Features
    fieldmarks: Body uniformly silvery. Second anal-fin spine plate-like, twice or more shorter than pupil.

    Body elongate and compressed; body depth 10.9 to 15.4 times in standard length; anus situated below 36th to 40th dorsal-fin soft ray. Head length 5.7 to 6.8 times in standard length; snout length 2.4 to 2.7 times in head length; upper head profile oblique concave, rising gently from tip of snout to middle of orbits and more steeply to dorsal origin; posterior confluence of frontal ridges behind rear margin of orbits; sagittal crest confined to nape; orbits nearely touching dorsal profile, interorbital space flat or slightly concave; eye diameter 4.9 to 6.1 times in head length; interorbital width 1.3 to 1.6 times in eye diameter; upper jaw length 2.7 to 3.0 times in head length  ; palatine teeth present.  Gill rakers 17 to 20.  Dorsal-fin elements 98 to 110; anal fin with 11 spines, second plate-like or triangular, shorter than pupil, (inserted below 38th to 42nd dorsal-fin soft ray), 59 to 66 soft rays, posterior 15 to 24 soft rays connected by membrane; pelvic fins inserted below eighth to ninth dorsal-fin soft ray, about 1 eye diameter behind posterior end of pectoral-fin base.  Pyloric caeca 20 to 29.  Vertebrae total 105 to 114, including 38 to 44 precaudal and 65 to 72 caudal.  Colour: Body uniformly silvery; dorsal fin blackish grey (in North Atlantic populations) or with black margin of membrane between first 3 soft dorsal-fin rays and seventh to ninth soft rays (in South Hemisphere populations). 
    Geographical Distribution

    Launch the Aquatic Species Distribution map viewer

    Eastern North Atlantic from France to Senegal, including Azores, Madeira, Canaries and offshore seamounts, western Mediterranean (individual stragglers as far north as Iceland and east to Black Sea), off South Africa from Cape Frio to Agulhas Bank, including northern Walvis Ridge, seamounts in southern Indian Ocean along 30 to 35°S, Australia from New South Wales to southern West Australia, and New Zealand. A doubtful record from Cape San Lucas, Mexico (Rosenblatt and Wilson, 1987).
    Habitat and Biology
    Benthopelagicon continental shelf, along its edge and upper slope down to 400 m (600 m in Australia), usually over sandy and muddy bottoms from 100 to 250 m (over 300 m in Australia).Migrates into midwater at night. Occasionally found inshore in upwelling of deep water when it appears at surface. Schooling species.Feeds on crustaceans, small squid and fish. In the southern East Atlantic the most important forage items are Euphausia hanseni, E. luceus, Pasiphaea semispinosa, Sergesthes spp., Todaropsis eblanae, Engraulis capensis, Etrumeus teres, Sardinops ocellata, Maurolicus muelleri, Symbolophorus humbolti, Diaphus dumerili, Lampanyctodes hectoris, Chlorophthalmus sp. and Scomber japonicus (Mikhailin, 1978).Attains length of 125 cm at 9 years of age in southern East Atlantic and 160 cm at age of 13 years in northern East Atlantic (Mikhailin, 1976a).
    Spawns from end of winter to early spring off North African coast (Wheeler, 1969) and spring to autumn in New Zealand waters (Robertson, 1980). 
    Maximum 205 cm standard length and about 8 kg weight in eastern North Atlantic, usually 100 to 135 cm and 1.0 to 2.3 kg.
    Interest to Fisheries
    Important commercial fish species in the eastern North Atlantic, mainly off Portugal and Morocco. Also caught by trawls off Namibia and New Zealand. World annual catches varied in 1985 to 1990 from 7 839 to 21 748 t (FAO, 1992).
    Flesh excellent.The total catch reported for this species to FAO for 1999 was 11 990 t. The countries with the largest catches were Portugal (2 966 t) and New Zealand (2 638 t).
    Local Names
    AUSTRALIA : Southern frostfish .
    FRANCE : Sabre .
    GERMANY : Degenfisch .
    GREECE : Spadopsaro .
    ITALY : Pesce sciabola .
    MALTA : Fjamma .
    NEW ZEALAND : Scabbard fish ,  Frostfish .
    PORTUGAL : Espada branca .
    RUSSIA : Lepidop .
    SPAIN : Espadiella .
    SOUTH AFRICA : Bottersnoek ,  Buttersnoek .
    UK : Frostfish ,  Scabbard fish .
    YUGOSLAVIA : Zmijicnjak repas .
    Comparisons of populations of the main distributional areas, that is, the eastern North Atlantic-Mediterranean, South Africa, southern Indian Ocean and Australia-New Zealand, have never been based on adequate material. However, samples from southwest Africa (304 specimens) and the Azores (102 specimens) differ significantly in dorsal-fin pigmentation (see above) and meristic characters (Mikhailin, 1977). Surprisingly, Mikhailin's samples (if they were not mislabelled) from Gettysburg Seamount (36°22'N, 117deg;37'W) agree with the southern population in vertebral and dorsal counts. Morphometric studies of L. caudatus require further elaboration.
    Source of Information
    FAO species catalogue. Vol. 15. Snake mackerels and cutlassfishes of the world (Families Gempylidae and Trichiuridae). An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of the Snake Mackerels, Snoeks, Escolars, Gemfishes, Sackfishes, Domine, Oilfish, Cutlassfishes, Scabbardfishes, Hairtails, and Frostfishes Known to DateI. Nakamura  and  N. V. Parin 1993.  FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125, Vol. 15
    Duhamel, (1984)
    Last, et al. (1983)
    May & Maxwell, (1986)
    Mikhailin, (1977)
    Nakamura, (1986c, 1990a)
    Parin, (1986, 1990c)
    Portsev & Nikolaev, (1984)
    Rosenblatt & Wilson, (1987)
    Scott, et al. (1980)
    Shcherbachev, et al. (1989)
    Tucker, (1956)
    Wheeler, (1969
    Powered by FIGIS