What is a Cobia?

Niki Foster

The cobia ((Rachycentron canadum)) is a marine fish living in areas of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans with temperatures of at least 74°F (24°C). Also called aruan tasek, black kingfish, black salmon, crabeaters, ling, and lemonfish, the cobia is the only living species of the Rachycentridae family. Its closet relatives are the remora, or suckerfish, of the Echeneidae family.

Some cobia feed on crabs.
Some cobia feed on crabs.

The cobia can reach 78 inches (two meters) in length, and 150 pounds (68 kg) in weight. It has small eyes, a protruding lower jaw, and fibrous teeth covering the jaw, tongue, and roof of the mouth. The fish is smooth and dark brown, with a white underbelly and dark stripes along the sides that become more prominent in the mating season of April to September.

A cobia's diet might include small squid.
A cobia's diet might include small squid.

Cobia fish are usually solitary outside of the mating season, and they migrate north during the summer to warmer waters. The fish sometimes congregate in protected areas like reefs and harbors. Male fish mature at two years and females at three years, and both sexes can live up to 15 years. Before reaching adulthood, the fish are patterned with black and white stripes.

Cobia feed on other sea animals, including crabs, fish, and squid, and they sometimes act as scavengers, dining on the leftovers of larger fish species. Their predators are larger fish including the dolphinfish and the shortfin mako shark. They are also susceptible to parasites including acanthocephales, copepods, flukes, roundworms, and tapeworms.

Cobia are strong and fight hard when fished, and have become a popular sport fish as a result. They are sometimes a bycatch in the commercial fishing of king mackerel, but are not commercially fished themselves. However, they have been commercially farmed. Cobia are expensive on the market, but alleged to have an excellent flavor and texture. Cobia fillets are usually served poached or grilled.

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Discussion Comments


I caught one a few weeks ago and my gut instinct was to not eat it.


As a fish that can be a bottom feeder and feed on parasites, I don't think I would want to eat cobia. I've heard that the best cobia recipes are delicious, but I think I'll stick to salmon.

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