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Spotted drum
Equetus punctatus
(Bloch & Schneider, 1801)

Description:
Characteristic for the drums is the elongated first dorsal fin. Second dorsal and tail fins with white spots and dashes (E. punctatus). Head white with two dark brown bars, one through the eye, the other more posterior and more diagonal, extending across the chest to the pelvics. Body with multiple stripes.
Size up to 27 cm.
Juveniles have an extremely long dorsal fin. Head with a black spot on the nose and two black bars. Body with one long black stripe from the first dorsal fin to the tail (E. punctatus juvenile).

Habitat:
Occurs primarily on coral reefs. Secretive and usually solitary, under ledges or near small caves, down to 30 m. Feeds at night on crabs, shrimps and polychaetes.

Distribution:
Occasional Florida, Bahamas and Caribbean.

Remarks:
This species belongs to the family of the drums or croakers, so called because they produce typical sounds using their air bladder and special muscles. Two other species occur in the area. Characteristic for these three species is the elongated first dorsal fin.
The Highhat (Equetes acuminatus) has a black and white striped body. Very young juveniles have extremely long first dorsal fins, but lack continuous bars over the head. When becoming older, they have a band between the eyes.
The Jackknife fish (Equetus lanceolatus) has a single black band from the top of the first dorsal fin to and along the midbody line to the tip of the tail, but has no spots on the fins. Very young juveniles alike the juveniles of the two other species but are yellow and have a vertical black dash on the nose. With maturity, color fades to a yellowish cast in white areas, with yellow-gold borders on black stripes (E. lanceolatus juvenile), eventually may lose all yellow-gold coloration.

Spotted drum (Equetus punctatus)