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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Pilotfish Naucrates ductor

Although a member of the predatory trevally family Carangidae (see Bigeye Trevally), the pilotfish has taken up a scavenging, nomadic existence, traveling with large, ocean-dwelling bony fish, sharks, rays, and turtles. Its slim, silvery to pale bluish body is marked with six or seven bold black bands. These may help the host fish recognize it and so leave it alone. Darting in when its host has made a kill, the pilotfish eats any scraps it can find and also removes parasites. Young fish associate with jellyfish.

Pilotfish habitat mapzoom image
  • Order Perciformes
  • Length Up to 28 in (70 cm)
  • Weight Not recorded
  • Depth 0–100 ft (0–30 m)
  • Distribution Tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters worldwide