Fun American Butterfish Facts For Kids

Martha Martins
Nov 15, 2022 By Martha Martins
Originally Published on Aug 27, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
One of the interesting American butterfish facts is that it is eaten for its numerous health benefits.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.2 Min

American butterfish, also known as Atlantic butterfish, dollarfish, shiner, skipjack, sheepshead, or pumpkin scad, are deep-bodied fish with blunt noses as well as small mouths and weak teeth. This thin deep-body oval and silvery fish comes from the family Stromateidae and can be found in warm and temperate seas.

They do not have ventral fins but have a long continuous dorsal fin, long pectoral fins, and tiny scales on their body.

Their tail fin is as long as the dorsal fin and deeply forked. The Atlantic butterfish is also a fast-growing pelagic fish that lives in loose schools near the surface of the shore.

For more relatable content, check out these black ghost knifefish facts and giant guitarfish facts for kids.

American Butterfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an American butterfish?

The American butterfish, Peprilus triacanthus, is a fish from the family Stromateidae, which contains 15 species of fish in three genera.

What class of animal does an American butterfish belong to?

The American butterfish, Peprilus triacanthus, belongs to the Actinopterygii class of the family Stromateidae.

How many American butterfish are there in the world?

The Atlantic butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus) is found in abundance in the world. The population in the Gulf of Maine is unknown, but about 560,000-4.5 million Atlantic butterfish were taken from Massachusetts alone, which is just a portion of its vast population.

Therefore it is hard to say the exact population for the fish, but they are not going anywhere as of now.

Where does an American butterfish live?

The Atlantic butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus) inhabits the western Atlantic Ocean and can be seen in the waters of eastern Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. They can also be found on the North American coast from Palm Beach in Florida to the Gulf of Mexico.

What is an American butterfish's habitat?

The American butterfish habitat can be found in the benthopelagic, oceanodromous, brackish, marine environment at the depth of 49.2-1,378 ft (15-420 m). They like to inhabit rocky coastlines among the seaweed beds and along the coast in near-surface waters with a 40-74°F (4.4-23.3°C) temperature range. In the winters, they move to deeper water.

Who does American butterfish live with?

The Atlantic butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus) is a pelagic fish and likes to travel in either small bands or loosely organized schools. They prefer sandy bottom areas or muddy areas close to the shore.

How long does an American butterfish live?

The Atlantic butterfish is usually a fish that doesn't live for long, although the lifespan period of the butterfish is considered to be four to five years.

How do they reproduce?

Not a lot is known about the life of the Atlantic butterfish. But the butterfish can get sexually active at the age of one or two years, around the time when they reach 8 in (20.3 cm) of length.

The reproduction occurs through spawning, and the female butterfish lays buoyant, transparent, and spherical eggs. The eggs are laid once a year, from May to August, in offshore waters.

The eggs float for two days until they hatch. The juvenile butterfish would then enter coves or estuaries to hide in floating weeds and jellyfish tentacles to protect themselves from predators.

What is their conservation status?

The Atlantic butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus) of the family Stromateidae is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as they are neither threatened nor endangered and can be found in abundance in the Gulf of Maine.

American Butterfish Fun Facts

What do American butterfish look like?

The American butterfish is silver in color with pale sides and back.*Please note that this is an image of a red snapper which is a similar fish to the American butterfish. If you have an image of an American butterfish, please let us know at

The deep-bodied shape of Atlantic butterfish resembles the Jack family of fish. The Atlantic butterfish has an oval shape and a very thin and deep body with blunt noses.

They also have small mouths with weak teeth, along with the absence of ventricle fins. The butterfish has a long continuous dorsal fin, long pectoral fins, and tiny cycloid scales. Their anal and dorsal fins are equally long.

Their tail fin is as long as the dorsal fin and is deeply forked. The fish is silver in color with pale sides and back, which is also often covered by numerous irregular dark spots and 17-25 pores underneath the dorsal fin.

How cute are they?

The Atlantic butterfish is a magnificent fish with a wonderful silver color. This fish can be considered somewhat cute.

How do they communicate?

There isn't enough information available on how this fish communicates. But like all other fish, the Atlantic butterfish must communicate through sound, color, bioluminescence, motion, electrical impulses, or smell. Fishes need these forms of communication to navigate, call for spawning, alert predators, and while fighting.

How big is an American butterfish?

The American butterfish can grow up to 12 in (30.5 cm) in length, almost the same size as the Atlantic cod that shares its same habitat with the butterfish.

How fast can an American butterfish swim?

Their predators are known to be the fastest swimmers in the water world. However, fish like the Atlantic butterfish also need to swim fast enough to escape from such predators. Therefore even if the Atlantic fish doesn't swim as fast as the predator fish, they are still fast enough to escape these predators now and then.

How much does an American butterfish weigh?

The American fish weighs 1 lb (453.6 g) in weight, which is eight times less than the Atlantic salmon.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female butterfish do not have any different names.

What would you call a baby American butterfish?

The baby Atlantic butterfish, like all other baby fish, are called fry. The juvenile butterfish are known to float in the weed and among jellyfish to hide and protect themselves from predators.

What do they eat?

The American butterfish primarily feeds on jellyfish and eat low-nutrition foods. Their diet also consists of invertebrates like worms, crustaceans, squid, shrimp, amphipods, and other small fish. At Woods Hole, Ctenophores were also found in a butterfish's stomach, even though they are not regularly a part of their diet.

Are they aggressive?

The Atlantic butterfish can be a little aggressive, especially when inside a tank with other tankmates. That is why it is advised not to keep smaller fish species with them. Instead, similar-sized robust species with similar water chemistry are more ideally advised tankmates.

Would they make a good pet?

Even though the Atlantic butterfish has no unique behavior to be kept as pets, . They are usually for consumption purposes.

Did you know...

The numerous irregular dark spots present on the sides of the American butterfish fade when they die.

The mulloway fish is known as butterfish in Australia.

Why is it called butterfish?

The American butterfish taste gives them their name. The fish species has a very melt-in-your-mouth flavor, just like that of butter. Hence the name butterfish.

Are American butterfish edible?

The Atlantic butterfish is not just edible and wonderful in taste, but also a good source of many nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They have a good amount of protein in them; therefore, they do not contribute to any weight gain even though they are fatty and oily.

The protein in the fish slows down the emptying of food from the stomach, making you feel full for longer.

It is also sold fresh, smoked, and frozen and is prepared in many ways. The fish meat is white, tender, moist, and less bony.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our codfish interesting facts and Gulf toadfish surprising facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable clownfish coloring pages

*Please note that main image is of a black cod which is a similar fish to the American butterfish. If you have an image of an American butterfish, please let us know at

north america

Get directions
We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Martha Martins

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha Martins picture

Martha MartinsBachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha is a full-time creative writer, content strategist, and aspiring screenwriter who communicates complex thoughts and ideas effectively. She has completed her Bachelor's in Linguistics from Nasarawa State University. As an enthusiast of public relations and communication, Martha is well-prepared to substantially impact your organization as your next content writer and strategist. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to delivering high-quality work enables her to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

Read full bio >