The reproductive biology of Cheilopogon melanurus (Valenciennes, 1847) was examined off North Carolina during the summers of 1991–1992 and 1999–2003. Specimens were collected using a small mesh neuston net and dip nets. A spawning event, the first observation of mating
behavior for this species, was recorded off Cape Fear, North Carolina, on 19 August 2003. It was considered to be a spawning event due to: 1) unusual coloration of both sexes, 2) unusual swimming behavior of both sexes, and 3) ready release of gametes by both sexes upon capture. The spawning
event occurred in the presence of small clumps of floating Sargassum, but the fish did not appear to use the algae. Over all collections, female gonadosomatic indices were highest in June and July, but mature females were collected each month (June, July, and August). The overall female
to male sex ratio did not vary significantly from 1:1. Number of ova increased with increasing fish size, but the relationship was not strong. Our data indicate a spawning season of at least June through August off North Carolina due to high female gonadosomatic indices, large egg diameters,
presence of egg filaments, presence of spent females in July and August, and presence of small juveniles (≤ 25 mm) in July and August. This is the first report of single pair spawning for this family; other species reportedly spawn in large aggregations.
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