Convict Fish

Of all the fish that congregate along our seawall on Sarasota Bay, sheepshead are among the most common.  Often called "convict fish" due to their prominent black and silver stripes, sheepshead are medium-sized marine fish, found along the western Atlantic Coast from Nova Scotia to Brazil; their numbers are especially high in southwest Florida.

Favoring inshore, brackish habitats, sheepshead are best found near mangroves, piers, jetties, seawalls and tidal creek inlets.  They are omnivorous predators, consuming small fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects, a host of marine invertebrates and some aquatic plants.  Come March and April, sheepshead move offshore to spawn but still prefer to gather near human structures or natural reefs.

Members of the porgy and seabream family, which is represented by more than 120 species worldwide, convict fish are prized for their mild, white flesh and are commonly placed in aquariums due to their attractive markings.  Natural predators include a variety of inshore sharks and large fish.