Animal Update: Tomtates

Five tomtates were recently added to Atlantic Coral Reef!

Published February 28, 2018

Tomtates are fish that are found in the western Atlantic Ocean, from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. They inhabit either rocky bottoms in deeper waters or coral reefs in shallow waters, and are tolerant of colder waters.


These fish are a blend of silver and white with a yellow stripe across the length of their thin bodies. They can grow to be up to 10 inches in length.  

Like many other species of fishes, tomtates spend a lot of time in groups around coral reefs.  They are bottom feeders, eating worms, snails, crabs, shrimp and amphipods. Predators of tomtates include larger fish such as mackerel, snapper and grouper. 

Tomtates produce a distinctive grunting noise by grinding their pharyngeal teeth, which are found in their throats.  

Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes updates!

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