Turbot, a marine, soft-rayed fish of the flatfish family, and genus rhombus (Cuv.), characterized by minute sharp teeth on the jaws and pharynx, the dorsal fin commencing on the head in front of the eyes, and like the anal extending to the tail, and the eyes on the left side. The European turbot (R. maximus, Cuv.), the finest of the family, sometimes measures 6 ft. in width, and weighs over 200 lbs.; the left side is brown and covered with small tubercles, and the right side or lower surface smooth and white; without the tail the body is nearly round; mouth large, opening obliquely upward; eyes in a vertical line, one over the other; gill openings large; pectorals small.
It keeps on sandy grounds, and is a great wanderer, usually in companies, living near the bottom, and feeding on small fish, crustaceans, and mollusks; though voracious, it is particular in its choice of food, and will bite at none but fresh bait; the spawning season is about August, after which it soon recovers its good condition. Its flesh is white, fat, flaky, and delicate, and has been highly esteemed from remote antiquity; it is disputed whether this or the next species was the rhombus of the ancient Romans; the French call it water or sea pheasant on account of its fine flavor. Though not uncommon on the coasts of Great Britain, most of the turbot sold in the English markets are caught by Dutch fishermen on the long line of sandy banks between England and Holland. The fishery begins about the end of March and closes by the middle of August, and is prosecuted both by lines and trawl nets. - The brill, pearl, or smooth turbot (JR. vulgaris, Cuv.) is a smaller and less delicate species, with smooth scales, from the same localities; the under jaw is the longer, and the upper eye a little behind the lower; it is reddish sandy brown, varied with darker, and sprinkled with white pearl-like specks; under surface smooth and white; it is found in the Mediterranean, as are several other species still less esteemed. - The American or spotted turbot (R. maculatus, Girard; pleuronectes, De Kay), called also New York plaice and watery flounder, is from 12 to 18 in. long, and 6 to 8 in. wide, sometimes attaining a weight of 20 lbs.; it is smooth, on the left side reddish gray with large circular or oblong darker blotches surrounded by a lighter margin, and with numerous white spots, especially on the fins; the lower surface white and spotless; iris silvery; gape wide, with a single row of separate, large, sharp teeth, and a protuberance on the chin; ends of dorsal rays free; body elongated; it resembles the brill more than any other European species.
It occurs along the coast of the New England and middle states, and is a delicate article of food.
European Turbot (Rbombus maximus).