St. Lawrence species


Tautogolabrus adspersus

Type of resource

  • Bottom fish
  • Fish

Status of the resource

  • Not a cause for concern

In season

Not yet commercialised.

SIZE : 30 cm, up to 44 cm.


LIFE CYCLE : Sexual maturity is attained around the age of three.
Spawning takes place from June to mid-August in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Males develop a nuptial coloration, which is more pronounced, at the end of winter. They define a territory and defend it fiercely against other suitors. This is where the courtship of the female takes place. Males and females release their sperm and eggs into the water, swimming very close together. Fertilisation takes place externally. Fish of both sexes can mate more than once a day.

The eggs float to the surface and hatch 2 or 3 days later.

Young cunner generally have a black spot on their dorsal fin.
Credit : Richard Larocque, photo taken in the Magdalen Islands, at a depth of 10 metres.

The cunner has an elongated body, a pointed head, and a broad oval tail. It has a long, uninterrupted fin on its back. Its body is covered with large, rough scales. Its characteristic small mouth has several rows of uneven, conical teeth. The cunner has large lips that are sometimes yellow.

Its color varies depending on the nature of the marine environment in which it moves. It can be brown, blue, green, or red. The belly is bluish to white. Young cunner generally have a black spot on their dorsal fin.

Close to the bottom, 10 to 130 m deep, in salt water.

The cunner is a sedentary fish that lives in coastal waters. They live on or near the seafloor, in beds of seagrass and rocks, around wharves and shipwrecks, for example.


To survive the winter, the cunner goes into dormancy. When the water temperature drops below 5 °C, it is not uncommon to find cunner in a state of lethargy, under rocks or in crevices. They can stop feeding for up to six months.





Fish eggs






MACHINES : No commercial fishing. Recreational angling.

In the beginning

Its French name, tanche-tautogue, is borrowed from the Narragansett language of the Nahahiganseck Sovereign Nation, an Algonquin people from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut in the United States. Today, the word “tautog” refers to the Black tautog, a fish closely related to the cunner.

LET’S COOK Be careful when eating. This fish has many bones.