Reproductive Biology

Spawning is seasonal, usually in spring and summer months (May-August in the northwest Atlantic; March-May and September-November in the southwest Atlantic, north of the equator; September-December in the Southern Hemisphere), and occurs serially. Females are remarkably fecund, with egg counts ranging from 400,000-2,000,000 depending upon body size of the female. Eggs are pelagic and buoyant, about 0.04 in (1.09 mm) in diameter, and hatch after 1.5-2 days. Larvae are pelagic, possess large heads and mouths, and acquire teeth on both jaws by the time they reach 0.13 in (3.3 mm) in length. The yolk sac disappears soon afterwards and larvae become predacious. Dorsal, anal, and caudal fins differentiate at about 0.25 in (6.35 mm), and fin rays appear at about 0.33 in (8.4 mm). Dorsal spines develop more fully at 1.1 in (27.9 mm). Pigmentation is apparent on the head dorsally and on the gut at 0.33 in (8.4 mm), with very small dots appearing on the entire body at 1.1 in (27.9 mm).

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