Lagocephalus sceleratus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Tetraodontiformes Tetraodontidae

Scientific Name: Lagocephalus sceleratus (Gmelin, 1789)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Silver-cheeked Toadfish
French Ballon à Bande Argentée
Pleuranacanthus sceleratus (Gmelin, 1789)
Tetraodon argenteus Lacepède, 1804
Tetraodon bicolor Brevoort, 1856
Tetraodon blochii Castelnau, 1861
Tetraodon sceleratus Gmelin, 1789
Taxonomic Notes: Some authors have placed this species in the genus Pleuranacanthus (Su and Li 2002).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2011-06-08
Assessor(s): Shao, K., Liu, M., Jing, L., Hardy, G., Leis, J.L. & Matsuura, K.
Reviewer(s): Zapfe, G. & Lyczkowski-Shultz, J.
Contributor(s): Stump, E.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Carpenter, K.E., Comeros-Raynal, M., Harwell, H. & Sanciangco, J.
Lagocephalus sceleratus is widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific, including the Red Sea, where it is common in parts of its range. It is an invasive species of concern in the Mediterranean basin, and has been implicated in the destruction of fishing gear. Lagocephalus sceleratus inhabits a variety of habitats at depths ranging from eight to 180 metres. It is harvested for human consumption in parts of its range. There are no species-specific conservation measures in place for L. sceleratus, however its distribution overlaps with several marine reserves in parts of its range. It is therefore listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Lagocephalus sceleratus is known from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf to Indo-West Pacific from the western Indian Ocean, east to the Philippines, north to the coasts of the South China Sea and Taiwan (Su and Li 2002) and southern Japan, south to southern Australia. Lagocephalus sceleratus is considered one of the most invasive fish species for the Mediterranean Sea. It was first reported there in 2003 (Feliz and Er 2004, Akyol et al. 2005). It has since rapidly expanded its range throughout the eastern Mediterranean, reaching the northernmost parts of the Aegean Sea and south-west to Tunis, but has not yet been observed in the western Mediterranean or reached Italy (Kalogirou 2013). It is found at depths ranging from 8 to 180 metres.
Countries occurrence:
Albania; American Samoa; Australia; Bahrain; Bangladesh; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cambodia; China; Christmas Island; Cook Islands; Cyprus; Disputed Territory (Paracel Is., Spratly Is.); Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Fiji; French Polynesia; Greece; Guam; India (Andaman Is., Nicobar Is.); Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Japan; Jordan; Kiribati (Kiribati Line Is., Phoenix Is.); Korea, Republic of; Kuwait; Lebanon; Libya; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Myanmar; Nauru; New Caledonia; Niue; Northern Mariana Islands; Oman; Pakistan; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Pitcairn; Qatar; Samoa; Saudi Arabia; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Syrian Arab Republic; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand; Tokelau; Tonga; Tunisia; Turkey; Tuvalu; United Arab Emirates; United States (Hawaiian Is.); United States Minor Outlying Islands (Howland-Baker Is., Johnston I., Wake Is.); Vanuatu; Viet Nam; Wallis and Futuna; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Mediterranean and Black Sea; Pacific – western central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – eastern central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):180
Upper depth limit (metres):8
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Lagocephalus scleleratus is common in Taiwan (K-T. Shao pers. comm. 2011). It is occasionally found in southern parts of Japan (K. Matsuura pers. comm. 2011) and the East China Sea and South China Sea (M. Liu and J. Liu pers. comm. 2011). Lagocephalus scleleratus is common in the Gulf of Suez (Sabrah et al. 2006). Lagocephalus sceleratus is considered one of the most invasive fish species for the Mediterranean Sea. It was first reported there in 2003 (Feliz and Er 2004, Akyol et al. 2005).

Specimens of L. sceleratus are very common in museum collections. It is represented by at least 179 lots in major collections (FishNet2 database searched November 2013).

Due to its association with sea grass beds, L. sceleratus may be experiencing population declines due habitat loss in parts of its range.

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

The ecological characteristics of L. sceleratus were studied in the eastern Mediterranean. It was determined that L. sceleratus inhabits sandy bottoms during early life stages, feeding on various invertebrates. This species experiences ontogenetic shifts in diet. Molluscs account for 75% of the diet of larger individuals (> 20 cm), crustaceans for about 20%, and fishes for about 5%. This species feeds on the economically important octopus Octopus vulgaris and cuttlefish Sepia officinalis. With increased size, this species shifts its habitat to seagrass beds, which are likely to be its spawning grounds. The largest individuals (>75 cm) have been captured over rocky bottoms, indicating further habitat shift to deeper or rocky grounds (Kalogirou 2013). Lagocephalus sceleratus is considered invasive in the Mediterranean Basin due to its isometric growth, early age of first reproduction (two years), highly adaptive feeding behaviour, intelligence, and absence of competitors (EastMed 2010).

The maximum standard length (SL) of L. sceleratus is 110 cm male/unsexed (Masuda et al. 1984), however it is more common total length is 40.0 cm, male/unsexed (Bouhlel 1988). The maximum published weight is 7.0 kg (Smith and Heemstra 1986). The size at 50% maturity in the Mediterranean is 36 cm (Kalogirou 2013). In the Gulf of Suez, L. sceleratus reaches maturity during the third year of life, at a size of 42–43 cm (Sabrah et al. 2006). In the Mediterranean it matures in two years (EastMed 2010).

Puffers of the genus Lagocephalus are globally distributed in warm shallow marine waters, however classification at the species level in Lagocephalus has not yet been studied in depth and there is confusion in the status of several species including L. cheesemaniiL. gloveriL. spadiceus, and L. wheeleri (Matsuura et al. 2011).

Tetraodontids are characterized by a tough skin that is often covered with small spinulous scales, a beak-like dental plate divided by a median suture, a slit-like gill opening anterior to the base of the pectoral fin, no pelvic fins, no fin spines, a single usually short-based dorsal fin, a single usually short-based anal fin, and no ribs. They are capable of inflating their abdomens with water when frightened or disturbed and are capable of producing and accumulating toxins such as tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin in the skin, gonads, and liver. The degree of toxicity varies by species, and also according to geographic area and season (Allen and Randall 1977, Allen and Erdmann 2012). Fishes in the family Tetraodontidae have the smallest vertebrate genomes known to date (Neafsey and Palumbi 2003).

Systems:Freshwater; Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Lagocephalus sceleratus is incidentally harvested for human consumption in parts of its range. There is interest in developing a targeted fishery for this species in the eastern Mediterranean in order to control its population (Akyol et al. 2005).

Toxic Tetraodontids are prohibited from entering European markets, however this species is sold beheaded and eviscerated in Egyptian Mediterranean markets (Halim and Rizkalla 2011). Lagocephalus sceleratus affects local fisheries by deterring customers from purchasing it (Katikou et al. 2009), creating additional work (discarding unwanted fish, reinforcement using steel lines, fishing in deeper waters), and reducing local stocks of economically important commercial squid and octopus (Kalogirou 2013, EastMed 2010, Streftaris and Zenetos 2006).

In the Persian Gulf, Lagocephalus sceleratus is of no interest to the fisheries industry but is commercially collected and sold in the aquarium trade (Scott et al. 1974).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats known to this species. It is taken incidentally in long-line and trawl fisheries, and is of little value. Due to its affinity with seagrass beds, especially as spawning grounds, this species may be undergoing population decline due to loss of habitat. One-third of global seagrass species are currently experiencing population declines, and 21% of globally assessed seagrass species are in threatened or near-threatened categories primarily due to coastal development and pollution (Short et al. 2011).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Due to the high concentrations of tetrodotoxin found in this species, harvest is illegal in many countries (Sabrah et al. 2006). There are no known species-specific conservation measures in place for L. sceleratus, however its distribution overlaps with several marine protected areas.

Citation: Shao, K., Liu, M., Jing, L., Hardy, G., Leis, J.L. & Matsuura, K. 2014. Lagocephalus sceleratus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T166947A1155760. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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