The lined sole, Achirus lineatus, is a member of Family Achiridae,
the American soles. Previously it was included within family Soleidae. As
with all soles, A. lineatus is a right-eyed species, with the dorsal
or eyed side of the flat benthic animal corresponding to the right side of
a fish with a typical body plan and orientation.
The body is entirely scaled, and body coloration on the eyed side is
usually olive to brown, with variable dark blotches and spots and diffuse
lines. Conspicuous tufts of hairlike cirri are usually scattered on the
body surface. Pectoral fins are present (Hoese and Moore 1977, Robbins et
Ray counts are variable, with dorsal soft rays numbering 52-58 and anal
soft rays numbering 39-44 (Froese and Pauly (2008). Ray count ranges
presented in Hoese and Moore (1977) differ slightly, with dorsal soft rays
numbering 50-58 and anal soft rays numbering 38-48. The pectoral fin on
the eyed side possesses 5-6 soft rays (Hoese and Moore 1977).
Potentially Misidentified Species
Careful examination allows Achirus lineatus and other right-eyed
achirids to be distinguished from all co-ocurring flatfish of the families
Bothidae (lefteye flounders) and Cynoglossidae (tonguefishes), all of which
have the left side up. The right-eyed flounders of family Pleuronectidae
typically inhabit colder waters than A. lineatus (Robbins et al 1986).
ithin the Achiridae, the absence of vertical body bars should be
sufficient to distinguish A. lineatus from three co-occurring
species, the naked sole (Gymnachirus melas), fringed sole (G.
texae), and hogchoker (Trinectes maculatus). Lined sole are
also easily differentiated from scrawled sole (Trinectes
inscriptus), whose side-up body is covered by a network of irregular
dark lines (Robbins et al 1986).
HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION
Achirus lineatus is a western Atlantic species occurring in Florida
and in the northern Gulf of Mexico southward to northern Argentina (Froese
and Pauly 2008).
Lined sole may be encountered throughout the subtidal benthic IRL environment.
LIFE HISTORY AND POPULATION BIOLOGY
Age, Size, Lifespan
Froese and Pauly (2008) note a maximal total length of 23 cm.
Seasonal field sampling in coastal and inshore Louisiana waters by Gunter
(1938) revealed Achirus lineatus to not be among the more common
species. Peak abundance occurred in the fall, from September through
November. More recent collections from Florida Bay and Louisiana also
indicate A. lineatus is typically not a numerically dominant
estuarine ichthyofaunal component (Peterson and Turner 1994, Matheson et
In contrast, Machado et al. (2002) indicate A. lineatus was ranked
23rd of the 39 most abundant demersal fish species collected from Sepetiba
Bay, Brazil from 1993-1996, occurring in 43.5 of trawl samples taken.
Stoner (1986) also reports A. lineatus as the dominant fish species
in Laguna Joyuda estuary, Puerto Rico, accounting for greater than half the
collection totals at some sampling stations.
Reproduction appears to occur year-round, at least in some portions of the
animal's distributional range. Stoner (1986) found small juveniles (<26 mm SL) in all months except October in Laguna Joyuda estuary, Puerto Rico.
Published information regarding other reproductive aspects in this species
Keith et al. (2000) indicate a brief planktonic larval duration for the
species. Migration of the left eye to a position adjacent to the right eye
on the new top side of the animal occurs during this period (Robbins et al.
The restricted subtropical to tropical distribution of the A.
lineatus suggests a somewhat narrow thermal tolerance for the species.
Froese and Pauly (2008) indicate 30°N as the northern distribution
Achirus lineatus is a broadly euryhaline species, i.e., having a
wide salinity tolerance. Individuals have been collected in near-fresh
water from the upper portions of the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee
estuaries, Florida (Gunter and Hall 1963), and aquarium hobbyists sometimes
refer to A. lineatus as a freshwater sole. At the other end of the
salinity spectrum, Cervigon et al. (1992) note the presence of A.
lineatus in hypersaline lagoons.
Although Ronnins et al. (1986) note individuals rarely occur in coastal
waters of less than 15 ppt, Stoner (1986) indicates A. lineatus is a
year-round resident of seasonal wet/dry-influenced laguna Joyuda, Puerto
Rico where salinity is estimated to range between 4 ppt and 44 ppt.
Achirus lineatus is a benthic predator that feeds primarily on
worms, crustaceans, and small fish.
Lined sole are likely to compete for suitable benthic prey with
co-occurring flatfishes and other bottom-feeding fish species.
The Nematode Procamallanus (=Procamallanus) pereirai
has been reported as a parasite of Tampa Bay Achirus lineatus
Achirus lineatus inhabits reefs, coastal and estuarine seagrasses
and sand and mud bank habitats to a depth of 20 m. It is a cryptic species
capable of blending in with occupied sand and mud habitats, and often
buries itself in the sand with only its eyes exposed (Kritzler 1951, Tolan
et al. 1997, Matheson et al. 1999, Froese and Pauly 2008).
Lined sole are typically active in the evening hours, spending much of the daytime hours buried in shallow sand.
Related to commercially important soles, but Achirus lineatus itself is of relatively little market value.
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