Inshore Lizardfish

Synodus foetens

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Habitat

    Inshore lizardfish can be found in the Chesapeake Bay in estuarine waters. They live near the bottom of shallow inshore waters over sand or mud bottoms. As alluded to in their name, they stick close to the shore and generally don’t venture out past 650 feet, but they can be found at depths of up to 330 feet.

  • Range

    The inshore lizardfish lives coastally from Brazil to Massachusetts. It tends to visit the Chesapeake Bay during the summer and fall, and can be found in the Bay as far north as Annapolis in the west and the Chester River in the east.

  • Diet

    Fish and small invertebrates

  • Lifespan

    Nine years

  • Status

    Stable

The inshore lizardfish has an elongated body, pointed snout and large mouth with sharp teeth. It can be found in the Bay as far north as Annapolis in the west and the Chester River in the east.

Appearance

The inshore lizardfish has an elongated, cylindrical body. It has a pointed snout and large mouth with sharp, slender teeth on its jaws. It has a large, soft fin in the middle of its back, called the dorsal fin, and a smaller fin towards its tail, called the adipose fin. Its tail, or caudal fin, is forked. On top, the inshore lizardfish is greenish brown, with whitish sides and bottom. Its bottom and sides might be spotted or blotched in the shape of eight diamonds. Inshore lizardfish can reach up to 16 inches in length and live up to nine years.

Feeding

Inshore lizardfish are voracious predators and will bury themselves in sand or mud to catch prey or hide from predators. They eat primarily fish and small invertebrates.

Did You Know?

  • The inshore lizardfish is also known as the galliwasp, lagarto and sand pike.
  • Inshore lizardfish are commonly caught by anglers but are considered a nuisance fish.
  • Many inshore lizardfish are caught as bycatch in shrimp trawls in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sources and Additional Information

  • Fishes of Chesapeake Bay by Edward O. Murdy, Ray S. Birdsong and John A. Musick
  • Life in the Chesapeake Bay by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson
  • Synodus foetens – The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Habitat

    Inshore lizardfish can be found in the Chesapeake Bay in estuarine waters. They live near the bottom of shallow inshore waters over sand or mud bottoms. As alluded to in their name, they stick close to the shore and generally don’t venture out past 650 feet, but they can be found at depths of up to 330 feet.

  • Range

    The inshore lizardfish lives coastally from Brazil to Massachusetts. It tends to visit the Chesapeake Bay during the summer and fall, and can be found in the Bay as far north as Annapolis in the west and the Chester River in the east.

  • Diet

    Fish and small invertebrates

  • Lifespan

    Nine years

  • Status

    Stable