Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Rachycentron canadum



Rachycentron canadum (cobia)


  • Last modified
  • 07 March 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Rachycentron canadum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • cobia
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Actinopterygii
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The cobia (Rachycentron canadum) is a migratory predatory pelagic fish, in its own family in the order Perciformes, and is native to tropical and subtropical seas of the world, except the central and eastern Pa...

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Rachycentron canadum (cobia); adult, shadowing a Dusky shark (Carcharhinus obscurus). Sea World, Australia. April 2008.
CaptionRachycentron canadum (cobia); adult, shadowing a Dusky shark (Carcharhinus obscurus). Sea World, Australia. April 2008.
Copyright©Happy Little Nomad/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Rachycentron canadum (cobia); adult, shadowing a Dusky shark (Carcharhinus obscurus). Sea World, Australia. April 2008.
AdultRachycentron canadum (cobia); adult, shadowing a Dusky shark (Carcharhinus obscurus). Sea World, Australia. April 2008.©Happy Little Nomad/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Rachycentron canadum (cobia); female, approx. 8kg in weight. Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, USA.
CaptionRachycentron canadum (cobia); female, approx. 8kg in weight. Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, USA.
CopyrightPublic Domain - Released by NOAA (U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Rachycentron canadum (cobia); female, approx. 8kg in weight. Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, USA.
FemaleRachycentron canadum (cobia); female, approx. 8kg in weight. Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, USA.Public Domain - Released by NOAA (U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Rachycentron canadum (Linnaeus, 1766)

Preferred Common Name

  • cobia

Other Scientific Names

  • Apolectus niger (Bloch, 1793)
  • Centronotus gardenii Lacepède, 1801
  • Centronotus spinosus Mitchill, 1815
  • Elacate atlantica Cuvier, 1832
  • Elacate bivittata Cuvier, 1832
  • Elacate canada (Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Elacate falcipinnis Gosse, 1851
  • Elacate malabarica Cuvier, 1832
  • Elacate motta Cuvier, 1829
  • Elacate nigra (Bloch, 1793)
  • Elacate pondiceriana Cuvier, 1832
  • Gasterosteus canadus Linnaeus, 1766
  • Meladerma nigerrima Swainson, 1839
  • Naucrates niger (Bloch, 1793)
  • Rachicentron canadum (Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Rachycentrodon canadum (Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Rachycentron canadus (Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Rachycentron pondicerrianum Jordan, 1905
  • Rachycentron typus Kaup, 1826
  • Scomber niger Bloch, 1793
  • Thynnus canadensis Gronow, 1854

International Common Names

  • English: black king; black king fish; black kingfish; black salmon; butter fish; butterfish; cabio; cod; crab eater; crabeater; cubby yew; kingfish; lemon fish; ling; prodigal son; runner; sergeant fish; sergeantfish
  • Spanish: bacalao; bonito; bonito negro; cabio; cobia; cobie; peje palo; pejepalo
  • French: cobia; mafou
  • Arabic: goada; kumi nu'aakhr; seekel; segel; seheeha; sikel; sikin
  • Chinese: jun cáo yú; xí là bái

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: beijo-pirá; beijupirá; beiupirá; bejupirá; bijupirá; biupirá; cação-de-escama; cação-de-escamas; canado; chancarona; parabiju; parambiju; peixe-rei; pirabeju; pirabiju; pirá-biju; pirambiju; pirapiju
  • Cape Verde: fogueteiro-galego; peixe-sargento; pirão; sargento
  • Colombia: caitay
  • Denmark: sergentfisk
  • Estonia: seersantkala
  • Finland: okakala
  • Germany: Cobia; Offiziersbarsch; Offiziersfisch
  • Guinea: bonita
  • Guinea-Bissau: bacalhau
  • India: cuddul-verarl; kadal-viral; madusa; modasa; muddus; neimeen; peddah-mottah; sakala; sakla
  • Indonesia: badee; gabus laut; mondoh
  • Iran: sookalla
  • Japan: sugi
  • Jordan: sakan
  • Korea, Republic of: nal-sae-gi
  • Madagascar: hambe-mvrozo; soa ambina
  • Malaysia: aruan tasek; buntut karbo; hai lay; jaman
  • Mozambique: bacalhau; ndjika; nzanzuduma
  • Namibia: kobia; königsbarsch
  • Papua New Guinea: king fish
  • Philippines: balisukan; dalag dagat; dalag-dagat; dalag-dalag; gile; hayoan-tasik; itang; kume; langa-langa; langlanga; pako; pandauan; pandawan; sakalan itang; tangiging-batang; tangirion; tase; tasi; tayad; tiruk
  • Poland: rachica
  • Portugal: filho-pródigo; fogueteiro-galego; peixe-sargento; sargento
  • Senegal: todié
  • Somalia: takho
  • South Africa: kobia
  • Sri Lanka: cuddul-verari; cuddul-verarl; kadal-viral; mudhila; mudhilla; mudhu luhula
  • Sweden: cobia
  • Tanzania: songoro
  • Vietnam: cá Bop; cá Giò

Summary of Invasiveness

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The cobia (Rachycentron canadum) is a migratory predatory pelagic fish, in its own family in the order Perciformes, and is native to tropical and subtropical seas of the world, except the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. It is a promising fish for aquaculture and since the late 1990s has become an important aquacultured species. It is usually cultured in its native range (in particular in China and Taiwan), but in August 2015, a large number of young fish escaped from offshore cages in Ecuador, where it is not native. Cobia have recently been reported from the Colombian and Panamanian Pacific coast, indicating their rapid spread from the release site. As voracious carnivores, they could have far-reaching impacts on fisheries and marine ecology in the Eastern Pacific.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Actinopterygii
  •                     Order: Perciformes
  •                         Suborder: Percoidei
  •                             Family: Rachycentridae
  •                                 Genus: Rachycentron
  •                                     Species: Rachycentron canadum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The cobia was originally described as Gasterosteus canadus by Linnaeus in 1766. It was later changed to Rachycentron canadum (Linnaeus, 1766). Synonyms, mostly according to Bester (2017), can be found in the list of Other Scientific Names.

R. canadum is the only species in the family Rachycentridae. The family name, from the Greek words rhachis ("spine") and kentron ("sting"), was inspired by the dorsal spines (Shaffer and Nakamura, 1989). Johnson (1984), cited in Shaffer and Nakamura (1989), studied the affinities based on morphology of early life stages as well as adults of species in the families Nematistiidae, Carangidae, Coryphaenidae, Rachycentridae, and Echeneididae. This author concluded that although Rachycentron and the Echeneididae have been assumed to be closely related, based on similarities in form, colour, and fin shape of juveniles of Rachycentron and Echeneis naucrates, osteological examinations revealed a greater likelihood of sister group status between Rachycentron and Coryphaena. This latter affinity is especially shown in larval morphology of the two genera. Johnson (1984) also states, "Three synapomorphies unite the Carangidae, Coryphaenidae, Rachycentridae, and Echeneididae as a monophyletic group...Within the carangoids, the Coryphaenidae, Rachycentridae, and Echeneididae form a monophyletic group (Shaffer and Nakamura, 1989).


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Rachycentron canadum attains a maximum length of 2 m and a maximum weight of 68 kg, although individuals as large as this are uncommon (Froese and Pauly, 2017); Shaffer and Nakamura (1989) report a mean length of 52.5 inches (133 cm) and mean weight of 67.3 pounds (30.5 kg) for 9-year-old females in Chesapeake Bay in the early 1960s. The body is smooth with small scales, elongated and sub-cylindrical, with a body depth of 12.5% of total length on average. The head is large, flattened and broad, and occupies almost one fifth of the body: head length averages 19.9% of total length (TL) and head width averages 55.6% of head length (Sajeevan and Kurup, 2014b). The eyes are small and positioned almost in the centre of the lateral aspect of the head. The lower jaw projects slightly past the upper. The base of the two dorsal fins is long, averaging 54.3% TL, and the anal fin originates behind the dorsal-fin origin. The first dorsal fin comprises 7-9 (usually 8) short and stout isolated spines which are not connected by any membrane and fold down into grooves in the body. The spinous portion of the dorsal fin averages 17.6% TL. The second dorsal-fin base is also long, averaging 36.7% TL, and comprises 31-34 rays; its anterior rays are somewhat elevated in adults (Smith and Merriner, 1982). The large pectoral fins are normally carried horizontally. They are long and pointed, becoming more falcate with age, and fixed in the horizontal position, with 20 –21 rays (Collette, 1978). The anal fin is similar in profile to the second dorsal fin, but shorter, with two spines (embedded in the body) and 24-26 rays; the pelvic fins each have one spine and 5 rays (Sajeevan and Kurup, 2014b). The caudal fin is lunate in adults, with the upper lobe longer than the lower (caudal fin rounded in young), and the central rays much prolonged, with 17-22 rays. The aspect ratio of the caudal fin averages 1.33 (Sajeevan and Kurup, 2014b). The mature cobia has a forked, slightly lunated tail, which is usually dark brown. The juvenile cobia has a rounded tail (Shaffer and Nakamura, 1989).


Although the colour may change according to mood (Su et al., 2000), R. canadum is generally dark brown in colour, grading to white on the belly with two darker brown horizontal bands on the flanks. A black lateral band, as wide as the eye, extends from the snout to the base of the caudal fin, bordered above and below by paler bands; below this is a narrower dark band. The black lateral band is very pronounced in the juvenile, but tends to become obscured in the adult. The fins are mostly all deep or dusky brown; anal and pelvic pale with gray or dusky markings; ventral surface grayish white to silvery (Shaffer and Nakamura, 1989).


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Wild Rachycentron canadum can be found nearly everywhere in tropical, subtropical and warm temperature marine waters.  In the eastern Atlantic, they occur from Massachusetts  and Bermuda to the Rio de la Plata, Argentina (Ditty and Shaw, 1992; Resley and Webb, 2006) with the northern range record being a specimen collected from the Scotian Shelf off Canada (Shaffer and Nakamura, 1989). Cobia range from the Atlantic coast of Morocco to South Africa (Smith and Merriner, 1982). According to FAO (2017), they do not occur in the Mediterranean, but there are reports of cobia in eastern Mediterranean waters (Golani and Ben Tuvia, 1986) and the species can likely be regarded as Lessepsian  (McLean et al., 2009). The potential also exists for the migration of cobia into the Mediterranean via the Strait of Gibraltar (Golani et al., 2002). Cobia range throughout the Indian Ocean, and in the western Pacific they are reported from Hokkaido, Japan to Australia (IUCN, 2017; Shaffer and Nakamura, 1989). They are not native in the eastern Pacific (Shaffer and Nakamura, 1989), although escaped fish have recently established a population there (Kwok, 2016; King, 2016).

The global distribution of the species means that for most areas suitable for cobia aquaculture there is little or no need to import alien broodstock, thereby reducing potential negative impacts on regional biodiversity through escapees and the importation of diseases (McLean et al., 2009).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Sea Areas

Atlantic, Eastern CentralPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Atlantic, NortheastPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Atlantic, NorthwestPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Atlantic, SoutheastPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Atlantic, SouthwestPresentNativeNunes, 2014; Rombenso et al., 2014; IUCN, 2017Cultured in Rio de Janeiro as well as present in the wild
Atlantic, Western CentralPresentNativeIUCN, 2017Widely cultured as well as wild
Indian Ocean, EasternPresentNativeRGCA, undated; Nazar et al., 2013; IUCN, 2017Locally cultured as well as wild
Indian Ocean, WesternPresentNativePhilipose et al., 2013; IUCN, 2017Locally cultured as well as wild
Mediterranean and Black SeaPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedGolani and Ben Tuvia, 1986; McLean et al., 2009Some reports from the eastern Mediterranean; probably Lessepsian.
Pacific, Eastern CentralPresentIntroduced Invasive King, 2016
Pacific, NorthwestPresentNativeHuang et al., 2011; IUCN, 2017Cultured as well as wild
Pacific, SoutheastPresentIntroduced Invasive Castellanos-Gallindo et al., 2016Cultured, and also wild following escapes
Pacific, SouthwestPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Pacific, Western CentralPresentNativeIUCN, 2017Widely cultured as well as wild


BahrainPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
BangladeshPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Brunei DarussalamPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
CambodiaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
ChinaPresentNativeHuang et al., 2011Locally cultured as well as wild
-FujianPresentNativeHuang et al., 2011Cultured as well as wild
-GuangdongPresentNativeHuang et al., 2011Cultured as well as wild
-HainanPresentNativeHuang et al., 2011Locally cultured as well as wild
-Hong KongPresentNativeHuang et al., 2011Cultured as well as wild
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Cocos IslandsPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
East TimorPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
IndiaPresentNativeNazar et al., 2013Cultured as well as wild
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
-DamanPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
-GoaPresentNativeCentral Marine Science Research Institute, 2017Locally cultured as well as wild
-KarnatakaPresentNativeCentral Marine Science Research Institute, 2017Locally cultured as well as wild
-KeralaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
-PuducherryPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
-Tamil NaduPresentNativeCentral Marine Science Research Institute, 2017Locally cultured as well as wild
IndonesiaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
-JavaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
-MoluccasPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
-Nusa TenggaraPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
-SulawesiPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
IranPresentNativeHarlioglu and Farhadi, 2017; IUCN, 2017Cultured on an experimental scale, as well as wild
IraqPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
IsraelPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
JapanPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
-HokkaidoPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989
-HonshuPresentNativeTakeda, 2010
-KyushuPresentNativeTakeda, 2010
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoPresentNativeTakeda, 2010
JordanPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Korea, DPRPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989
Korea, Republic ofPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989
KuwaitPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
MalaysiaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
MaldivesPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
MyanmarPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
OmanPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
PakistanPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
PhilippinesPresentNative McLean et al., 2009; FAO, 2017; IUCN, 2017Cultured as well as wild
QatarPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Saudi ArabiaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
SingaporePresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Sri LankaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
TaiwanPresentNativeLiao et al., 2004; Miao et al., 2009; Huang et al., 2011; IUCN, 2017Cultured as well as wild
ThailandPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
United Arab EmiratesPresentNativeMinistry of Climate Change and Environment, 2016
VietnamPresentNativeVan Can Nhu et al., 2011Widely cultured as well as wild
YemenPresentNativeIUCN, 2017


AngolaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
BeninPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
CameroonPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Cape VerdePresentNativeIUCN, 2017
ComorosPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
CongoPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Côte d'IvoirePresentNativeIUCN, 2017
DjiboutiPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
EgyptPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Equatorial GuineaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
EritreaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
GabonPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
GambiaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
GhanaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
GuineaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Guinea-BissauPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
KenyaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
LiberiaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
MadagascarPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
MauritaniaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
MauritiusPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
MayottePresentNativeIUCN, 2017
MoroccoPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
MozambiquePresentNativeIUCN, 2017
NamibiaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
NigeriaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Sao Tome and PrincipePresentNativeIUCN, 2017
SenegalPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
SeychellesPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Sierra LeonePresentNativeIUCN, 2017
SomaliaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
South AfricaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
-Canary IslandsPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
SudanPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
TanzaniaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
TogoPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Western SaharaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017

North America

BermudaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
CanadaPresent, few occurrencesPresent based on regional distribution; one specimen from the Scotia Shelf.
-Nova ScotiaPresent, few occurrencesShaffer and Nakamura, 1989One specimen from the Scotia Shelf
MexicoPresentNativeAbundes-Velazco, 2010; Diario Oficial, 2011; Carta Nacional Pesquera, 2014; IUCN, 2017Caribbean. Locally cultured (in Campeche, Quintana Roo, Veracruz and Yucatan) as well as wild.
USAPresentNativeIUCN, 2017Atlantic (from Massachusetts southwards) and Gulf of Mexico
-AlabamaPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989
-ConnecticutPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989
-FloridaPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989; Benetti et al., 2008Locally cultured as well as wild
-GeorgiaPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989
-LouisianaPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989
-MarylandPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989
-MassachusettsPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989
-MississippiPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989; FAO, 2017Locally cultured as well as wild
-New JerseyPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989
-New YorkPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989
-North CarolinaPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989
-Rhode IslandPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989
-South CarolinaPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989; FAO, 2017Locally cultured as well as wild
-TexasPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989; Discover Life, 2017; FAO, 2017Cultured as well as wild
-VirginiaPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989; FAO, 2017Cultured as well as wild

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Antigua and BarbudaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
ArubaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
BahamasPresentNativeBenetti et al., 2008Locally cultured as well as wild
BarbadosPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
BelizePresentNativeBenetti et al., 2008Locally cultured as well as wild
British Virgin IslandsPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Cayman IslandsPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Costa RicaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
CubaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
CuraçaoPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
DominicaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Dominican RepublicPresentNativeBenetti et al., 2008Locally cultured as well as wild
GrenadaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
GuadeloupePresentNativeIUCN, 2017
GuatemalaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
HaitiPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
HondurasPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
JamaicaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
MartiniquePresentNativeIUCN, 2017
MontserratPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Netherlands AntillesPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
NicaraguaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
PanamaPresentNativeKing, 2016; IUCN, 2017; FAO, 2018Locally cultured as well as wild. Native in Caribbean, exotic in Pacific (where population arose after escapes from aquaculture in Ecuador).
Puerto RicoPresentNativeBenetti et al., 2008Locally cultured as well as wild
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Saint LuciaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Trinidad and TobagoPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Turks and Caicos IslandsPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
United States Virgin IslandsPresentNativeIUCN, 2017

South America

ArgentinaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
BrazilPresentNativeIUCN, 2017Locally cultured as well as wild
-BahiaPresentNativeNunez, 2014Cultured as well as wild
-CearaPresentNativeNunez, 2014Cultured as well as wild
-PernambucoPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989; Cavalli and Hamilton, 2009Cultured as well as wild
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNativeRombenso et al., 2014Locally cultured as well as wild
-Rio Grande do NortePresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989; Cavalli and Hamilton, 2009Cultured as well as wild
-Sao PauloPresentNativeCollaço et al., 2015Locally cultured as well as wild
ChilePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive D. Nieto Díaz-Muñoz, Gerente General Cobia del Desierto de Atacama SpA, Mejillones, Chile, personal communication, 2019Pilot-scale culture in a recirculating aquaculture system
ColombiaPresentNative Invasive King, 2016; IUCN, 2017Native in Caribbean, exotic in Pacific
EcuadorPresentIntroduced Invasive Castellanos-Galindo et al., 2016; Cohen, 2016; Kwok, 2016; White, 2016Escaped from culture
French GuianaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
GuyanaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
SurinamePresentNativeIUCN, 2017
UruguayPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
VenezuelaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017


-MadeiraPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Russian Federation
-Russian Far EastPresentNativeShaffer and Nakamura, 1989


AustraliaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentNativeDiscover Life, 2017
-New South WalesPresentNativeDiscover Life, 2017
-QueenslandPresentNativeLee et al., 2015Locally cultured as well as wild
-TasmaniaPresentNativeDiscover Life, 2017
-VictoriaPresentNativeDiscover Life, 2017
-Western AustraliaPresentNativeDiscover Life, 2017
New CaledoniaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Norfolk IslandPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
PalauPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Papua New GuineaPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
Solomon IslandsPresentNativeIUCN, 2017
VanuatuPresentNativeIUCN, 2017


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Ecuador 2015 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Private sector Yes No Castellanos-Galindo et al. (2016); Thomas (2016)

Natural Food Sources

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Food SourceLife StageContribution to Total Food Intake (%)Details
Anchoa spp. Aquatic/Adult
Portunidae Aquatic/Adult
Fish Aquatic/Adult
Callinectes Aquatic/Adult
Penaeidae Aquatic/Adult
Decapterus russelli
Encrasicholina devisi
Loligo spp.


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A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
B - Dry (arid and semi-arid) Preferred < 860mm precipitation annually
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 7 Optimum Adult
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 4 Harmful Adult
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 7 Optimum Broodstock
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 4 Harmful Broodstock
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 7 Optimum Larval
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 4 Harmful Larval
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 7 Optimum Fry
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 4 Harmful Fry
Salinity (part per thousand) 30 Optimum Adult
Salinity (part per thousand) 44.5 2 Harmful Adult
Salinity (part per thousand) 30 40 Optimum Broodstock
Salinity (part per thousand) 28 Harmful Broodstock
Salinity (part per thousand) 25 30 Optimum Larval
Salinity (part per thousand) 15 Harmful Larval
Salinity (part per thousand) 25 30 Optimum Fry
Salinity (part per thousand) 15 Harmful Fry
Spawning temperature (ºC temperature) 28 30 Optimum Broodstock
Spawning temperature (ºC temperature) 25 Harmful Broodstock
Water pH (pH) 7.8 8.4 Optimum Larval
Water pH (pH) 7.8 8.4 Optimum Fry
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 27 30 Optimum Adult
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 36 16 Harmful Adult
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 23 27 Optimum Broodstock
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 20 Harmful Broodstock
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 22 31 Optimum Egg
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 20 Harmful Egg
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 30 Optimum Larval
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 25 Harmful Larval
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 30 Optimum Fry
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 25 Harmful Fry

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Coryphaena hippurus Predator Aquatic/Fry/Aquatic/Larval Bester, 2017
Isurus oxyrinchus Predator Aquatic/Adult/Aquatic/Broodstock Cassie, 2016

Economic Impact

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Given the predatory nature of Rachycentron canadum, the potential economic consequences of its becoming established in the wild in a region where it was not previously present are evident (Castellanos-Galindo et al., 2016).  The population resulting from escapes from floating cages in Ecuador could cause a significant economic impact not only in that country but also in nearby countries (Kwok, 2016).

Environmental Impact

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Invasive species challenge the conservation of biological diversity and can also generate large ecological impacts, particularly in aquatic ecosystems where trophic links within food webs are thought to be strong (Simberloff et al., 2013). Quantifying the impact of alien invasive species on ecosystem services is an essential step in developing effective practices and policy for invasive species management (Cook et al., 2007).

Although Van Can Nhu et al. (2011) said that Rachycentron canadum was unique as the only globally cultured organism which was not exotic to any of the areas where it was being produced, it has since been farmed, and then escaped, in the eastern Pacific where it is not native. In 2015, thousands of R. canadum escaped the enclosures of an aquaculture system off the coast of Ecuador (Kwok, 2016). At the rate of 200 miles per month they steadily moved up the west coast of Central America and were spotted near Panama several months after their escape. As voracious carnivores, they could have far-reaching impacts on fisheries and marine ecology in the Eastern Pacific. As the cobia is the only species in its family, which is most closely related to remoras or shark-suckers, it also represents an unusual type of predator for the tropical East Pacific, which increases the degree of uncertainty about its effects and the potential for major disruption of the area´s ecosystem (King, 2016).

In February 2016, researchers projected that there was a 50% chance that the species would reach the Californian coast and invade native Pacific salmon habitats (Cohen, 2016). R. canadum is large (it can reach 176 pounds in weight and two meters in length) and predatory, and can reach a mature weight at 11 months of age, growing three times as rapidly as the native Pacific salmon, which require 3 years to reach a mature weight of at most 100 pounds. When the species arrives in the salmons' natural habitat, it has the potential to be a predator and a competitor (Keough et al., 2017). 

Fish that escape from aquaculture systems in regions where the species is native in the wild also have the ability to alter the gene pool of the native species in the environment  (Keough et al., 2017); Nepomuceno (2017) found some genetic differences between wild and cultured cobia in Brazil.

Social Impact

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By disrupting ecosystems, invasive fish species, such as Rachycentron canadum in Ecuador, can threaten livelihoods.

Uses List

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Human food and beverage

  • Cured meat
  • Fresh meat
  • Frozen meat
  • Whole


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01/11/2017 Original text by:

Uriel Rodriguez-Estrada, Instituto de Pesca, Laboratory of Fish Nutrition and Health (SSA), Paulista´s Agency of Agro-business Technology (APTA), Research and Development Center(UPD), Pirassununga, São Paulo, Brazil. [Present address: Cátedras-CONACYT (National Council of Science and Technology), and Academic Division of Biological Sciences, Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco (UJAT), Mexico].

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