Drum Fish (Sciaenidae)

drum fish
Drum fish

The drum fish is a marine, riverine, or freshwater bottom feeder that prefers crustaceans, mussels, insects, and other fish. Some species are adapted to eating crabs and other shelled creatures thanks to their huge canine teeth. Large fish, sea birds, and people are all potential predators.

How Many Species Of Drum Fish Are There?

There are probably around 275 species of drum fish, with the number perhaps reaching 300. You may see a tiny selection of them below.

Freshwater Drum: This species of drum fish is unique in that it spends its entire life in freshwater environments like rivers and lakes rather than saltwater environments like the ocean. Moreover, one can find it solely in North America (from Hudson Bay to Guatemala).

Red Drum Fish: This species, sometimes known as the channel bass, is only found in the Atlantic Ocean between the Gulf of Mexico & Massachusetts. Its body is red and white but has a black spot on its tail.

California corbina: The swim bladder that would allow this fish to generate its characteristic croaking sound is absent in the California kingcroaker or kingfish.

Totuava: Drum fishes come in a variety of sizes, but the totuava (sometimes spelled totoaba) is the largest of its kind. The Gulf of California, close to Mexico, is home to this endangered species.

Common Weakfish: Threatened throughout the United States Atlantic coast, this species goes by the Native American name of Squeteague. There are a few other weakfish species, but they’re all considered to be of low conservation priority. These include the smooth weakfish, the smalltooth weakfish, and the smallscale weakfish.

How Does Drum Fish Look Like?

The drum fish has a long rounded body, a groove or notch between the ray and spine. Apart from this, they have two dorsal fins that run along their back, making them look like any other ray-finned fish. A few species of drum fish have evolved larger mouths, protruding jaws, and sharp canine teeth, although these exceptions are rare. Although silver is the most common hue, many different shades of red, brown, black, and white can be found among the many different species.

The presence of a big muscle with a swimming bladder is the most notable and distinctive feature of this family. Thus, moving this muscle allows the fish to dramatically magnify sound, allowing it to make the resonant croaking or cracking noise for which it is famous. In certain species, only males can make this noise during mating season.

The entire year round, this call serves a secondary duty as a warning or locate call in other species. Moreover, the “vocalisation” of a certain species is characteristic enough for identification. Although this is often cited as a defining trait of drum fish, other species, including the California corbina noted above, are completely incapable of doing so.

The drum fish can range in size from a few feet in length to as much as 60 pounds. Besides, giant 225-pound totuavas live in the Gulf of California and are the largest known species. When compared to their freshwater counterparts, saltwater fish tend to be considerably more imposing.

Size of a Drum Fish?

The typical length of a freshwater drum fish is between 10 and 20 inches. While most drum fish species top out at around 2 metres (6.6 feet), there are exceptions. A normal person wouldn’t be able to reach that!

How Fast Can A Drum Fish Swim?

Although researchers are working on the topic, freshwater drum fish are not fast swimmers. Because they always have like placid, slow-moving water, deep rivers and lakes are ideal for them. The black drum fish and other species of drum fish are present in the ocean, although they are extremely slow and ungainly like the tinny spotted drum fish.

What Does drum fish Eat?

So, you know now what is drum fish. The drum fish is a carnivore and a bottom feeder, meaning it consumes prey such as invertebrates, larvae, crustaceans, and even other fish and insects. The drum fish can consume these critters because they have teeth in their throat that can easily devour any insect or worm that could be floating around in the water. As an example, the teeth of the black drum fish are highly valuable for this purpose.


Are drumfishes Dangerous?

Alive? Probably. These predators eat virtually everything and wouldn’t turn down a meal of human flesh if given a chance. After their demise, though… To be honest, I doubt it. Since they lack venom and other defence mechanisms, the greatest threat they pose is their keen teeth.

Their body size, which can grow to be quite huge, is another potential concern (especially in lakes and other open waters). When humans go fishing red drum in a river, lake, sea, or any other body of water, they should be aware of the larger ones. Snagging the smaller ones is simple.

How Much Does A Drum Fish Weigh?

The average freshwater drum fish weighs between 2 and 6 pounds. On rare occasions, though, it has been discovered in North America to weigh more than 16 kg. The croaker is only one of many fish species that can be captured in freshwater and marine environments.

Male And Female Drum Fish

For lack of study, we can’t even give the sexes of this species a proper label. While we’re on the subject of common names, you should know that this fish is also known as the croaker. The croaker gets its name from the gurgling sound its swim bladder makes as it swims through its natural environment.

Baby Drum Fish

Baby drum fish are likewise unnamed because there are no terms for the sexes of the species. Nonetheless, if you ever decide to keep one as a pet, you are free to give it any name you like. As infants, their swim bladders and muscles are not fully developed, making it difficult for them to navigate the water. It’s safer for the children to stay in a river or lake rather than in the ocean.

Drum Fish Habitat

The drum fish is found only in its native saltwater habitats, spans the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans and includes tropical and temperate zones. Moreover, most people would choose to live in or near a coastal bay or estuary. Only a few species can be found living in freshwater lakes and rivers for significant portions of the year.

Furthermore, each species has a unique population range. The red drum, one of the most frequent fish, looks to remain steady and healthy despite its prominence as a commercial fish. For the most part, environmentalists don’t have to worry about most species. This totuava is one of many that are in serious danger of extinction.

How Cute Are They?

This fish is not endearing in any way. These animals are not only difficult to catch because of their slippery, scaly skin and solitary nature, but they also live in remote areas. Their muted tones may be ideal for hiding, but they do nothing for their aesthetic value. Therefore, we should focus on smaller, more vividly coloured fish.

How Do They Communicate?

The fresh water drum fish uses rapid contraction and relaxation of its abdominal muscles as a form of communication. Since this makes a rhythmic sound, drum fish have been given this moniker. They can also make a drum fish noise, which is rarely used for communication and sounds like a croak or gurgle.

Drum Fish Predators and Prey

The drum fish is a marine, riverine, or freshwater bottom feeder that prefers crustaceans, mussels, insects, and other fish. Some species can crack the shells of crabs and other crustaceans easily, thanks to their large canine teeth.

Large marine predators, seabirds, and people all share this ocean as potential prey. Overfishing, poaching, and the destruction of the drum fish’s natural habitat due to the construction of dams and the diversion of water are all potential threats.

Would They Make A Good Pet?

The drum fish is not an excellent choice for a pet. Considering their carnivorous diet, they might wipe out the entire fish population in your drum set aquarium. There are instances when they reach enormous proportions and could outgrow your home. For this reason, you should consider a wider variety of fish when stocking your aquarium.

Fun Fact About Drum Fish

The scientific name for the drum fish comes from one of its distinctive features. Fish with a single dorsal fin (thus the name “single back”) and a grunting sound (hence “grunniens”). The scientific term “drum fish” comes from the family’s distinctive appearance and sound. However, this might not make much sense when we consider that certain species of drum fish have developed without any drumming organs at all!

What Is Unique About Them?

One of the cool facts about them is how diverse they are, in addition to their excellent singing. There are over 300 different species of drum fish. Freshwater drum fish is the most common, but there are many other kinds as well, including blue drum fish, silver drum fish, baby drum fish, spotted drum fish, juvenile drum fish, and more. What a huge clan!

How Do Drum Fishes Reproduce?

Drum fish species have widely varying spawning and gestation periods, among other reproductive characteristics. Typically, breeding occurs in shallower waters during the summer and fall. In order to find a female, the male employs its distinctive call. Once the female has given birth, she may deposit anywhere from a few hundred to several million eggs. The sperm of male then fertilises the eggs.

Within a few days of hatching, tiny larvae (no more than a few millimetres in length) emerge from the eggs, and after only a few years of existence, the creatures mature fully. Each species has a unique lifespan. Some species of saltwater drum fish can live up to 50 years in the wild, whereas the average life span of the freshwater drum is only six to thirteen years. Some far older ages exist there as well.

Can You Cook Them?

Commercial and recreational fishermen alike often haul in drum fish. Recreational fishermen frequently catch these fish species along the beach or pier. Large quantities can be caught by commercial fishermen using nets in deeper waters. At one point, it was the world’s 25th most often caught fish, according to UN data.

The flavour of drum fish meat is subtle and slightly sweet. Saltwater fish are caught and eaten at a far higher rate than their freshwater counterparts. In fact, many gourmet seafood eaters find freshwater drum fish to be unsatisfactory. The delicate flavour of the flesh complements a wide variety of seasonings, herbs, and vegetables, and you can prepare it by baking, boiling, or sautéing.

Drum Fish FAQs

Why Do Drum Fish Make Sound?

These sonic muscle fibres are present along the fish’s flanks and attach to the central tendon that encircles the swim bladder. Drum and croaker get their common name from the drumming or croaking sound made by the contraction of the sonic muscle fibres against the swim bladder.

What Is A Drum Fish?

The drum fish, a ray-finned fish, communicates with others through a croaking or cracking sound. Fishes like this one can be deceptive in appearance and difficult to identify without the proper training. There aren’t a lot of visible features that set it apart.

Is Drum A Good Fish To Eat?

Some anglers have discovered the unique sports features of this native fish, but even fewer are aware of the freshwater drum’s amazing culinary potential. So, yes you can eat them with no issues. However, you should look for any kind of allergies.

Is A Drum Fish A Carp?

The drum fish is a distinct species from the carp family. The carp, or Cyprinus carpio, is a type of freshwater fish. It’s in a completely separate class (though the same class of ray-finned fish). Some freshwater drums are sometimes mistaken for carp, which may contribute to the misunderstanding.

Why Are They Called Drum Fish?

The unique muscle sounds they use for communicating inspired the moniker. The swimming bladder is vibrated by the muscle, creating a croaking sound similar to that of a drum.

What Is Another Name For Drum Fish?

The freshwater drum goes by many names, including Russell fish, grunt, grunter, grinder, gooble gobble, shepherd’s pie, grey bass, Gasper goo, Gaspergou, gou, and croaker. In some regions of Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, it goes by the name sunfish.

Are Drum Fish Bottom-Feeders?

Drum fish do reside primarily in the benthic environment. This is the deepest point at which any sea, ocean, river, or lake can be reached. They feed on the insects and rodents that scurry over the floor. In order to crack tough shells, certain species have developed large mouths, strong jaws, and keen teeth.

Do Black Drum Fish Have Teeth?

The black drum weighed in at a little over 113 pounds, setting a new world record (51 kg). They can be any shade of black or grey, with dark stripes standing out on an otherwise grey body in juveniles. Their jaws are strong & their teeth are round, making them excellent shellfish crushers.

Can You Eat Drum Fish?

There’s no denying that drum fish is a tasty catch, but most people opt for saltwater drum fish over their freshwater counterparts. Many anglers don’t care much for freshwater drum because of their reputation as “tough fish.”

Do Red Drum Have Worms?

Copepods, sometimes known as “anchor worms,” are a typical wintertime parasite of red drum fish, according to biologists, although they pose no threat to the fish’s wellbeing.

How Long Do Black Drums Live?

Within a matter of weeks, infants begin to take on the appearance of full-grown adults. After four years, black drums become adults. A typical lifespan is 40–50 years for these guys.

Is A Drum A Carp?

Some people mistake freshwater drums for carp, although the carp has barbels and a deeply forked tail, whereas the drum does not. Native to Ohio’s rivers and Lake Erie, freshwater drummers thrive in deeper, cleaner waters.

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