Diplodus puntazzo

The sharp snout bream or Diplodus puntazzo is a fish belonging to the sea breams family (Sparidae) widely distributed in the peninsular and African Atlantic Ocean, from the French coasts to Sierra Leone. It is present both in the Canary Islands and in the Cape Verde Islands, but not in Madeira. It can also be found in the Mediterranean Sea as well as in the Black Sea. It inhabits rocky and sandy bottoms up to depths of 150 meters, although it is more common at depths of less than 60 meters.

With an oval and laterally flattened body, Diplodus puntazzo can reach up to 60 cm maximum total length, being 30 cm the most common size to observe. It has a pointed snout that has given rise to the specific epithet of this species. The jaws are slightly extensible and are equipped with 8 forward facing incisor teeth in both the upper and lower jaws. These incisor teeth are followed by 1 to 2 rows of very small and rudimentary molars, which are hardly noticeable in adult specimens. The dorsal fin is unique and consists of 11 spines, the first of which is very short, followed by 12 to 15 soft rays. The anal fin has 3 spines followed by 11-13 soft rays. Finally, the caudal fin adopts a forked shape. As for the color of Diplodus puntazzo, the body is silvery gray with 6-7 dark bands alternating with the same number of thinner and lighter bands on its flanks. We will observe a black annular spot on the caudal peduncle, which is much more intense in coloration in juveniles. Frequently, the caudal fin is bordered by a thin black stripe, being generally all fins grayish with a much darker gradient as we approach the distal parts of the fins. It also highlights a deep black spot at the top of the insertion of the pectoral fins with the body.

The behavior of Diplodus puntazzo is generally gregarious, forming small schools of specimens. Juvenile specimens usually enter brackish waters, a fact that does not usually occur in adult specimens.

The diet is varied and omnivorous in nature, finding in its food menu both algae and annelids, molluscs and crustaceans.

In the Mediterranean Sea there are other species of the genus Diplodus that could be confused. Their distinctive features are:

  • Diplodus annularis: black spot on the base of the tail, without transverse bands.
  • Diplodus cervinus: 5-6 transverse bands that are very wide.
  • Diplodus puntazzo: alternation of about 6 broad and marked transverse bands with other narrow and weak ones.
  • Diplodus sargus: 8 to 9 well-marked transverse bands.
  • Diplodus vulgaris: 15-16 golden transverse lines; black spot on nape to pectoral fins; annular black spot on caudal peduncle.