Cobia Fish

Rachycentron canadum

Last updated: April 6, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Anwar Attar/Shutterstock.com

It has teeth not only in its jaws but in its tongue and the roof of its mouth

Cobia Fish Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Actinopterygii
Order
Carangiformes
Family
Rachycentridae
Genus
Rachycentron
Scientific Name
Rachycentron canadum

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Cobia Fish Conservation Status

Cobia Fish Locations

Cobia Fish Locations

Cobia Fish Facts

Prey
Fish, crabs, squid
Group Behavior
  • Largely solitary
Fun Fact
It has teeth not only in its jaws but in its tongue and the roof of its mouth
Estimated Population Size
At least 80,000
Biggest Threat
Overfishing
Most Distinctive Feature
Its seven to nine dorsal spines
Other Name(s)
Black salmon, black bonito, codfish, black kingfish, prodigal son, crabeater, ling, lemonfish, cabio, sergeant fish, sergeantfish, runner, cubby yew
Gestation Period
24 to 36 hours
Habitat
Warm to tropical oceans, mangroves, estuaries
Predators
Humans, sharks, mahi-mahi
Diet
Carnivore
Type
Fish
Common Name
Cobia
Number Of Species
1

Cobia Fish Physical Characteristics

Color
  • White
  • Dark Brown
Skin Type
Scales
Lifespan
15 years
Weight
Up to 135 pounds
Length
78 inches

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View all of the Cobia Fish images!



“The Cobia Fish is a Beautiful and Fearless Marine Fish”

With its cylindrical body and elegant fins, the cobia is one of the more attractive gamefish. Large in size, the fish is not only good-looking but good eating, with meat that has a sweet, buttery taste and is high in nutrition. The price per pound is high as well, but for connoisseurs, the cobia is worth it.

Five Amazing Cobia Fish Facts!

  • The cobia doesn’t have a swim bladder.
  • It’s closely related to the remora but lacks the sucker on top of the head that lets it attach to larger fish such as sharks.
  • Though it’s found in warm oceans, the cobia’s not found on the Pacific Coast of North America.
  • The cobia can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and salinities.
  • It is the only member in its family, Rachycentridae, and its genus, Rachycentron.

Cobia Classification and Scientific name

The scientific name of the cobia is Rachycentron canadum. Rachycentron comes from the Greek word for “spine” which is rhachis, and the Greek word for “sting,” which is kentron and refers to the fish’s small, sharp dorsal spines. There are no subspecies.

Cobia Appearance

This beautiful, sleek fish has a torpedo-shaped body. It is dark brown on top with two silvery bands on the sides with a grayish-white or yellowish belly, but the color can change according to the fish’s mood. The cobia is known for its depressed, broad head and a lower jaw that juts out past the top jaw. The first fin on its back has been reduced to seven to nine short spines which enhance the fish’s overall beauty. The second dorsal fins are long, and taller in the front. They can be lowered into a groove in the fish’s back. The anal fin is smaller, and the tail fin is rounded and half-moon-shaped. It has small, embedded scales. The fish can grow to nearly 7 feet and weigh as much as 135 pounds, though 110 pounds is more usual in a large fish. Females are larger than males.

The cobia is sometimes mistaken for its cousin the remora and the bluefish, whose body is blue but lacks the bands of silver and the flat head.

A cobia swimming in the open ocean. This sleek fish has a torpedo-shaped body.
A cobia swimming in the open ocean. This sleek fish has a torpedo-shaped body.

kaschibo/Shutterstock.com

Cobia Distribution, Population, and Habitat

Cobia is found in subtropical and tropical waters around the world, save the Pacific coast of North America. The fish is considered abundant and prefers habitats such as wrecks, pilings, and the areas beneath buoys. It’s not afraid of boats and can sometimes be seen basking near them.

Cobia Predators and Prey

The predators of the cobia are the shortfin mako shark, which preys on adult fish, and the mahi-mahi, which eats juveniles. The fish is also host to copepods, nematodes, trematodes, and other parasites. As for prey, it usually eats other fish such as stargazers, menhaden, sea horses, oyster toadfish, and smaller conspecifics. It also eats crabs such as the Chesapeake blue crab, the Atlantic rock crab, and the lady crab. Other prey items include blue mussels, hydroids, squid, and mantis shrimp.

Cobia Reproduction and Lifespan

Breeding takes place in various places in the Atlantic Ocean. Just where the fish breed depends on the time of year. The cobia breeds from June through August near the Chesapeake Bay, in May and June off the coast of North Carolina, and from April throughout September in the Gulf of Mexico. During this time groups of this usually solitary fish gather to spawn, and their coloration changes from brown to light, horizontal stripes. The fish release eggs and sperm into the water, which become part of the plankton. They hatch about two to two and a half days after they’re fertilized. After about five days the larvae’s eyes and mouth are developed enough for them to start to eat. These juvenile fish are boldly striped in contrast to their parents, whose stripes fade with age.

Cobia in Fishing and Cooking

The cobia is sought after for its meat, which is delicious. Though you’ll pay a somewhat high price for it, cobia meat provides good nutrition and is often eaten smoked, grilled, panfried, or poached. The animal also makes for a good gamefish though there are restrictions on how many can be caught in many places. Because of this, its numbers are mostly stable.

Cobia Population

The cobia population is well managed and its conservation status is least concern. In 2019 there are close to 80,000 fish caught just off the east coast of the United States, and anglers caught about 1.9 million pounds of Atlantic cobia in the same year.

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Cobia Fish FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is cobia a good fish to eat?

The cobia is a very good fish to eat. The meat is firm and has a wonderful taste, and recipes include having the meat grilled or poached. Indeed, the Iron Chef once had an episode where chefs competed using their cobia recipes. When it comes to nutrition, 100 grams of cobia has only 87 calories, 0.64 grams of total fat, and 18.99 grams of protein.

What does cobia fish taste like?

The meat of a cobia is described as light, somewhat sweet, and a bit buttery without being fatty. This, and the firmness of the flesh, make it good for many seafood recipes.

Is cobia an expensive fish?

Cobia is a fairly expensive fish, with a price between $22 and $24 dollars a pound as of 2022.

Is cobia high in mercury?

Unfortunately, as a large fish wild cobia can be rather high in mercury. A fish can have up to 3.24 parts per million or ppm of mercury according to Consumer Affairs. But it has been raised on fish farms since the 1990s, where its environment and nutrition are controlled. This should lower the amount of mercury found in the meat.

Where is Cobia fish caught?

Cobia fish are caught in warmer seas, though not off the Pacific Coast of North America. It can be caught in places such as Florida, Mexico, Brazil, most of the eastern and western coasts of Africa, and northern Australia.

Sources
  1. Eaton Street Seafood Market, Available here: https://kwseafood.com/seafood/fish/cobia
  2. Key West Seafood Depot, Available here: https://www.keywestseafooddepot.com/Cobia-Fillets_p_28.html
  3. Consumer Reports, Available here: https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/10/can-eating-the-wrong-fish-put-you-at-higher-risk-for-mercury-exposure/index.htm
  4. Fishwatch, Available here: https://www.fishwatch.gov/profiles/cobia
  5. Fishbase, Available here: https://www.fishbase.se/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?ID=3542&AT=cobia
  6. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobia
  7. ITIS, Available here: https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=168566#null
  8. Florida Museum, Available here: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-fish/species-profiles/rachycentron-canadum/
  9. NOAA Fisheries, Available here: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/cobia
  10. Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Available here: http://www.asmfc.org/species/cobia

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