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Mojarra is a type of small fish of the family Gerridae, and of the order Perciformes. This tropical fish can be found throughout the Caribbean and along the southern coasts of the United States. A small, silvery fish, mojarra have a deeply forked tail with 24 vertebrae, and typically find their food by sifting through the sand on the bottom of shallow sea areas, feeding on small invertebrates and plant matter. The fish has a protractile mouth — capable of being thrust out — and grows to a maximum length of about 1.15 feet (about 35 cm), though males could reach up to 1.32 feet (about 40 cm) in length. Mojarra live mostly in tropical seas, though juveniles are often found in brackish inland seas and lakes.
Common names for mojarra in English include blinch, broad shad, sea patwa, and silver perch. The fish can be found along the South Atlantic coast and along the Pacific coast of the United States. It also can be found throughout the Caribbean, from the coasts of Venezuela, Columbia, Panama, and Nicaragua to Honduras, Mexico, Cuba, and the Bahamas. Mojarra may be found in both salt water and brackish water, which is water that is a mixture of both fresh and salt water. It may be found as deep as 29 to 229 feet (about 9 to 70 meters) below the surface of the water.
Mojarra are a highly diverse fish used by people for food and as bait when fishing for larger species of fish. They are marketed fresh and sold as an edible fish in markets, but are not usually a highly valued or particularly expensive fish to purchase or use for bait when fishing. There are eight genera and 40 species within the biological family.
In Mexico, they are quite commonly found and used as both food and bait by fishermen. There are several types of this fish found in Mexican waters, including the graceful mojarra, which is no more than 8 inches (about 20.24 cm) long, the dark spot, golden, and Pacific flagfin. Fish of this species in the Mexican region tend to have a single dorsal fin and large rough scales that cover their bodies, while a highly common fish in the Mexican region of the genus Eucinostromus have slender bodies that are lacking the dark bars on the side of the body typical of many types of mojarra.
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