Trichiurus lepturus Linnaeus, 1758
Largehead hairtail
Espada,  Largehead hairtail,  Laying,  Liwit,  Balila,  Bolungnas,  Bulong-unas,  Diwit,  Espada,  Ispada,  Lahing,  Langging,  Langkoy,  Langkuy,  Liwit,  Pingka,  Pinka,  Pulho-an,  Sambukot
Trichiurus lepturus
photo by CSIRO

Family:  Trichiuridae (Cutlassfishes), subfamily: Trichiurinae
Max. size:  234 cm TL (male/unsexed); max.weight: 5,000.0 g
Environment:  benthopelagic; brackish; marine; depth range 0 - 589 m, amphidromous
Distribution:  Circumtropical and warm temperate seas; including Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Sea of Marmara, Red Sea, Persian Gulf.
Diagnosis:  Dorsal spines (total): 3-3; Dorsal soft rays (total): 130-135; Anal soft rays: 100-105. Body extremely elongate, compressed and tapering to a point. Mouth large with a dermal process at the tip of each jaw. Dorsal fin relatively high; anal fin reduced to minute spinules usually embedded in the skin or slightly breaking through; anterior margin of pectoral fin spine not serrated. Pelvic and caudal fins absent. Lateral line beginning at the upper margin of the gill cover, running oblique to behind the tip of the pectoral fins, then straight close to the ventral contour. Fresh specimens steely blue with silvery reflections, becoming uniformly silvery gray sometime after death (Ref. 6181).
Biology:  Generally over muddy bottoms of shallow coastal waters (Ref. 9351). Often enter estuaries (Ref. 9351). Juveniles feed mostly on euphausiids, small pelagic planktonic crustaceans and small fishes; adults feed mainly on fishes and occasionally on squids and crustaceans (Ref. 6181). Adults and juveniles have opposing complementary vertical diurnal feeding migration. Large adults usually feed near the surface during the daytime and migrate to the bottom at night. Juveniles and small adults form schools 100 m above the bottom during the daytime and form loose feeding aggregations at night near the surface. Pelagic eggs (Ref. 35388) and larvae (Ref. 6768). Max weight of 1.5 kg given in Ref. 28023 seems too low. The current angling world record was caught in Rio de Janeiro's Guanabara Bay and weighed 3.69 kg. Commercial fisherman have caught fish of up to 5 kg (Capt. Eduardo Baumeier, pers. Comm., 2001). Marketed salted or dried and also frozen (Ref. 9351). Excellent taste when fried or grilled; also for sashimi when fresh.
IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern (LC); Date assessed: 29 January 2013 Ref. (126983)
Threat to humans:  harmless
Country info:  Recorded from the Visayan Sea (Ref. 110387). Also Ref. 4733.

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