worm sometimes occupies the gills.
by Owain Gabb
at Sedgers Bank,
south Wales, by Owain Gabb
in April 2012.
for a flat fish, this species favours rocky coasts
where it is well adapted to clinging onto rocks with its broad fringing
Wildlife Blog (by Barry Stewart)
Information wanted: Please
send any records of this fish, with location, date, who discovered it,
how it was identified, prevalence, common name and any other details to
All messages will receive a reply.
found a dead Topknot on the shore outside my house. The fish looked quite
fresh and had no obvious signs of how it died. It was approximately six
inches long. I live on the island of Hoy in Orkney, in the parish of Crockness.
I am an angler with 47 years experience. The dead fish was thrown into
the sea and I did not take any further details as I did not know about
your survey. Last November 2009
a number of Ray's Bream, Brama
brama, were washed up along the same
stretch of shoreline.
Whilst looking for Ormers,
tuberculata, at low tide in Braye
Harbour, Alderney, I found
two specimens of Topknot, Zeugopterus punctatus. Both were
clinging to the underside of boulders in less than 25 cm of water. The
first was around 175 mm in length and remained clinging to the boulder
even though it was clear of the water. I removed it from the boulder before
rolling the stone back to its original position to avoid crushing the fish.
In the hand it curled up as though trying to stick itself to something
but made no vigorous attempts to escape. I released it next to the boulder
it had come from and it quickly swam back underneath.
The second fish was smaller,
around 100 mm and flipped off the stone as it was turned and remained nearby
in the open. After returning the stone to its original position, this fish
also returned to underneath the same stone. The only other time I have
encountered a Topknot was a specimen of around 200-250 mm in length
that I found whilst diving. It was clinging to the side of a rock on the
breakwater mound in about 9 metres of water.
While shore fishing from
Pittenweem breakwater on the east coast of Fife in Scotland on Monday,
I caught a smallish flatfish which I think I have identified as a Topknot.
worm can be seen venturing out from the gills.
an adult of this fish (20+cm) in a pool at Hannafore Point, West Looe,
yesterday. This is the first specimen of this size that I have seen (they
are more usually found at 4-5cm).
being prodded and poked, caught and netted out of the water, the fish,
when returned, swam around but refused to leave the area where it was caught.
Is it likely that it was guarding eggs? I no nothing of this species' biology
but it preferred being caught than swimming away. It would have made a
lovely aquarium specimen but I let it be in case it was nurturing a brood.
found on a Socite Jersiaise walk on Fliquet beach, NE Jersey in
1999, under a rock surrounding by water just above the LW mark it was a
very large specimen about 340 grams (12 oz) in weight, it was eventually
returned to the sea and appeared very relaxed. I had only seen very small
fish previously in local waters.
received reports of flatfish under rocks intertidally off Cornwall,
especially Looe (in the Big Pool) which from their behaviour of clinging
to the underside of the rocks, I thought was the Topknot, Zeugopterus
punctatus, from over a decade ago.
not subsequently received any other reports, and as time lapsed I was apt
to put these reports to the back of my mind. This was further emphasised
by aquarium study that found that this fish
was intolerant of high temperatures. However, I have measured the temperature
in the large Devon and Cornish pools and many of the large ones fail to
exceed 20° C despite the low spring tides occurring in the middle of
are not found intertidally on Sussex shores, although they are found in
As requested, whilst diving,
we encountered a Topknot of approx 25 - 30 cm (10-12 inches) in length
in around 6 metres of water, 50 metres from the north tip of St. Mary's
Lighthouse, Northumberland. The fish was sitting in the open, unprotected,
on a rock.
While Terry was trying to
photograph it, it disappeared under a large rock, as we could see right
through the gap under the rock, neither of us could understand how we couldn't
still see it, but I've since read about their ability to cling onto the
underside of rocks so I guess it must have been hiding there.
caught a Topknot
whilst fishing the inner harbour from the Breakwater at
(Friday May 3rd 2002). It was a sunny bright day, with a cool North Eastly
of around Force 4. Having not even heard of the species before, and sure
my mates were pulling my leg over its name, I looked it up on the WEB and
found your request for info on the British Marine
Life Study Society
Not too sure what data you are after exactly, so here's what information
I have, plus the usual fishermans photo of yours truly grinning with the
fish ... sorry ;-)
was caught on the bottom hook (Size 2) of what's known as a Wessex Rig.
The flowing trace in this case being about 3 ft long, with a final hook
length of about 10 inches. Sorry I haven't gone metric yet ! It fell to
a whole freshly peeled peeler crab which was about half the size of a credit
card. A small whiting (about 4 oz) was caught at the same time from
which was also baited with a similar sized crab on a size 2 hook. Therefore,
although the bite seemed to suggest that a flattie had taken the bait,
it is impossible to say which fish actually registered the bite on my rod.
currents run along the Breakwater which is a about a mile out to sea. As
the tide comes in, so the current runs strongly West, then there is a very
short slack period (20 minutes or so) before it reverses and runs East
for a short time (30 - 45 minutes). It then seems to realise that it is
going in the wrong direction and so goes slack, as if checking its compass
for around 20 minutes, before heading off like a steam engine directly
back West again. It continues going West until high tide, when another
slack period of around an hour or so is experienced. The currents on the
inner side of the seawall where I caught the Topknot, follow this same
pattern but are not quite as strong as those experienced when fishing the
outer seawall. The fish was caught during the 'compass checking' slack
period which occurred about an hour before high tide.
Topknot was weighed on the club scales and came to exactly 8 ozs. It was
identified as a Topknot by the steward of the Dover Sea Angling Club who
said that one or two got caught from the Breakwater every year. In fact
he made specific mention of one caught just a few weeks ago that he thought
was about 3 times the size of my fish. After weighing the fish was returned
to the water, where it arched its back and headed in a steep swift dive
for the bottom.
that some of this stuff is useful to you !
is a dark brown colour and tends to live in rocky areas rather than on
sand and when diving on a reef in Mounts Bay we often disturbed them on
the bottom and they would sometimes flick up onto a vertical surface and
stick there by suction. We also used to find them stuck to the rocks in
vertical cracks. When our Club Diving Officer disturbed one recently the
fish flicked up and stuck itself to his drysuit.