Opsanus tau 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Batrachoidiformes Batrachoididae

Scientific Name: Opsanus tau (Linnaeus, 1766)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Oyster Toadfish
Gadus tau Linnaeus, 1766

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-06-29
Assessor(s): Collette, B.B.
Reviewer(s): Linardich, C.
This species is widely distributed and common where it occurs in coastal and estuarine waters in a variety of structured habitat types. There are no known major threats; therefore, it is listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is distributed in the western Atlantic along the United States from the Gulf of Maine south to the Florida Keys (Collette 2002, Robertson and Van Tassell 2015). Its depth range is 0-5 m. In the Gulf of Mexico (Florida Keys), its estimated AOO is 4,321 km2 (calculated by clipping the distribution polygon to the ETOPO 0-5 m bathymetric layer), and its estimated EOO is 6,263 km2 (based on a minimum convex polygon drawn around the extent of its range on the ETOPO 0-5 m bathymetric layer).
Countries occurrence:
United States
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – western central; Atlantic – northwest
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):5
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is relatively common throughout its range. There are over 650 records reported from museums around the world (accessed through the Fishnet2 Portal,, 2012-08-02).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species inhabits coastal and estuarine waters on oyster or rocky reefs, jetties and wrecks. It frequently occurs among litter and tolerates polluted water. It lays very large eggs under stones or shells and the eggs are guarded and fanned by the male until hatching (Collette 2005). It has been reared in captivity (Schumann 1969). It reaches a maximum size of 43.2 cm TL, and the IGFA all-tackle gamefish record is 2.23 kg for a fish caught in North Carolina in 1994 (IGFA 2015). It feeds on amphipods, shrimps, crabs, hermit crabs, a variety of molluscs, ascidians, squid, and fish fry (Bigelow and Schroeder 1953, Schumann 1969, Robins and Ray 1986).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is sometimes taken as a gamefish and occurs as bycatch. It is also taken for use in public aquaria. It is not targeted commercially. In the United States, 16 tonnes of toadfishes were commercially landed in 2008, valued at $178,000 (NMFS data reported in Rodger and von Zharen 2012). However, species-specific catch data are not available, and three species (O. beta, O. tau, and Batrachoides surinamensis) may be represented in U.S. catch statistics. In addition, another 27 tonnes were landed recreationally in 2008. The Oyster Toadfish is a model organism for neurobiology research (see Bass and McKibben 2003 for a review), and muscle physiology research since it possesses the fastest vertebrate muscle known (Rome 2006).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no known major threats.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no species-specific conservation measures in place.

Citation: Collette, B.B. 2015. Opsanus tau. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T16441738A16509767. . Downloaded on 14 August 2018.
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