Smooth Flounder, Liopsetta putnami

Smooth Flounder, Liopsetta putnami.

The smooth flounder is the smallest of the flatfishes, never exceeding a length of 30 cm. Its body is a typical oblong with its right side exposed, placing it in the righteye flounder group. The dorsal fin begins over the middle of the left eye and terminates at the caudal peduncle, while the anal fin begins at the base of the pectoral fin and extends to the caudal peduncle. The caudal fin is rounded and separate from the dorsal and anal fins. Both pectoral fins are found on the "top" of the fish, while the pelvic fins are found on the ventral edge, well in advance of the pectorals. The lateral line is straight and the body is completely covered in scales except for a small patch between the eyes. The upper side of the body is grayish-brown to black in colour, with mottled dark spots, while the underside is white.

The smooth flounder is more common in temperate waters than in the Arctic, but a few specimens have been caught off the northern end of Labrador. This species prefers shallow, muddy-bottomed waters of coastal areas and estuaries. Although it is usually found in these slightly warmer brackish waters, it is able to withstand temperatures below 0°C for extended periods of time. Being a bottom-dweller, it feeds on amphipods, small molluscs, small crabs, shrimp, and marine worms. There is little known about its reproduction except that it breeds in late winter or early spring. Although the smooth flounder is too restricted in distribution to be of much commercial importance, it is harvested in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.