Silvery gray, with bluish reflections; on each flank twenty-four dark longitudinal lines.
C. griseus, Cuv. et Val. Poiss. torn. vi. p. 249. Sparus lineatus, Mont, in Wern. Mem. vol. ii. p. 451. pll. 23. Pagrus lineatus, Flem. Brit. An. p. 211. Black Bream, Yarr. Brit. Fish. vol. i. p. 114.
Fifteen to eighteen, rarely twenty, inches.
(Form). Deeper in proportion to its length than the Sparus centrodontus; the back more arched; the dorsal line falling more abruptly: length of the head, and depth at the nape, equal, each contained about four times and a half in the total length: jaws equal: teeth card-like, somewhat crowded in front, in several rows, the outer row longest; no molars, but on each side of the jaws above and below, one single row of small card-like teeth: eyes moderate, their diameter contained four times and a half in the length of the head; the space between them a little convex: infraorbital broad, and deeply notched on that part of the margin which answers to the extremity of the maxillary: scales on the cheeks in six rows: lateral line broad and strongly marked; its course parallel to the curvature of the back at one-third of the depth: dorsal commencing in a line with the pectorals; the spinous portion of the fin twice the length of the soft; fourth ray longest, exactly equalling the depth to the lateral line; succeeding rays nearly of the same length: caudal much forked; the upper lobe a little the longest: anal commencing nearly in a line with the soft portion of the dorsal, and terminating at the same distance from the caudal; spinous rays stronger than those of the dorsal, shorter than the soft ones; these last branched, the last two springing from one root: pectorals reaching to the vent, one-fourth of the whole length, narrow and pointed; fifth ray longest: ventrals a little behind the pectorals; in the axilla of each a long narrow pointed scale, and on the belly between the two, another similar but broader scale, of a triangular form, not present in the Sparus centrodontus:
B. 5; D. 12/11; A. 3/11; C. 17; P. 16; V. 1/5.
Number of vertebra) twenty-two. (Colours). Lead-gray, with a very faint tinge of golden yellow; becoming paler on the belly: sides marked with twenty-four or twenty-five longitudinal lines, darker than the ground colour, but narrower and less conspicuous than the lateral line, which last assumes the appearance of a broad brown band: fins dark gray: a faint golden lunulated mark with blue reflections on each side of the nape continuous with the gill-opening: beneath this line, immediately above the eyes, an irregular spot, presenting the same colours: no lateral dark spot.
First noticed by Montagu, who states that "it is by no means an uncommon fish on the south coast of Devon." Is also found occasionally off Hastings, but is not distinguished by the fishermen from the Sparus centrodontus, which is taken there in much greater plenty. According to Cuvier, there are two or three other allied species met with in the Mediterranean, which may not improbably also occur at times in the British seas. Food, according to that same author, at least in part, vegetable substances.
Trans, vol. xiv. p. 79. Loud. Mag. of Nat. Hist. vol. v. p. 743.
As considerable doubt attaches to this species, I have thought it proper to place it at the end of the present family, to which it certainly belongs. The following is Mr. Couch's description. " Body deep, compressed, and bearing a considerable resemblance to the S. Pagrus (of Couch): lips fleshy; jaws furnished with a pavement of teeth, those in front the longest; gill-membrane with five rays; gill-covers and body covered with large scales; ten first rays of the dorsal fin spinous; the anal also has four spinous rays, after which it becomes more expanded; tail concave. This fish has a membranous septum across the palate, as in the Wrasse genus. When in high season, the colour behind the head is a fine green, towards the tail reddish orange; the belly has a lighter tinge of the same colour. When out of season, the whole is a dusky lead colour. Weight about three pounds." I should have had no hesitation in referring this fish to the species last described, with which Mr. Couch himself has since associated it, had it not been said to possess " a pavement of teeth." This character, which is common to nearly all the other British Svaridce, is inapplicable to the Canthari, in which there are no rounded molars whatever. I am more inclined to think from such a circumstance, that it will prove to be a species of the sub-genus Sargus, Cuv.