American Oceans

Yellowtail Flounder

The Yellowtail Flounder is an average-sized fish often found near Massachusetts bay. Limanda ferruginea is the scientific name for the Yellowtail Flounder, though it is often called a simple flounder.

Yellowtail Flounder or Limanda ferruginea on ice

Another common nickname for the Yellowtail Flounder is the rusty dab or sandy dab. The Yellowtail Flounder is part of the ​​Pleuronectidae family.

There are four stocks of Yellowtail Flounder. The stock depends on where each Yellowtail Flounder lives.

These stocks are called Southern New England, Mid-Atlantic, Gulf of Maine, and Georges Bank. The Yellowtail Flounder lives in deep water in the sand, mud, or a mixture of both.

Characteristics & Appearance

The Yellowtail Flounder gets its name from the yellowish tint of the fins and tail. They have an oval-shaped body, usually speckled with slightly lighter spots. Yellowtail Flounder’s eyes are set extremely close together.

Weight & Length

The Yellowtail Flounder falls into an averagely medium-sized fish. Male and female averages are slightly different, the male length being anywhere around 30 to 47.6 cm or 10 to 18 inches.

The female’s size ranges anywhere from 39.4 cm to around 55.3 cm or 15 to 21 inches. Both male and female Yellowtail Flounder usually weigh somewhere around two pounds.

Physical Characteristics & Color

One of the characteristics of the Yellowtail Flounder is the closely set eyes. They also are known to have small mouths with thick lips, unlike other flounders. Their body is typically thinner and more oval with a pointed snout.

The dorsal and anal fins are a yellowish color, which leads to the name of the Yellowtail Flounder. The body is usually a brown or faintly olive green tint that tends to be speckled with shades of red.

The underside of the body sometimes is a white or cream color, but the parts near the tail are usually also yellow, like the fins. The coloring does not differ between that of males and females.

While many distinctions separate Yellowtail Flounder from other flounders, there are a few similarities.

The body shape and fin size of a Yellowtail Flounder are consistent with that of other flounders.

Lifespan & Reproduction

The Yellowtail Flounder can have a long life at seventeen years, but most never make it past seven years.

These fish mature faster than most of their family. They reach full maturity around three years, at which the females can begin reproduction.

The female Yellowtail Flounders can make anywhere from around 350,000 to 4,570,000 eggs in their lifetime.

They produce mainly in the summer months with the mass output of eggs from April until June, though breeding can start as early in the year as February and end as late as September.

Female Yellowtail Flounder typically live longer than their male counterparts and often develop much faster to reproduce.

Water temperature has been found to affect the reproduction of the eggs. Their eggs float and tend to be transparent. Yellowtail Flounder are batch spawners.


The Yellowtail Flounder can be found on the East coast of North America, anywhere from as far south as Cape Cod and the Chesapeake Bay and as far north as Newfoundland, Canada.

They tend to be most populous in places like the Georges Bank, Nantucket Grounds, and the Gulf of Maine.

Yellowtail Flounder typically live deep in pockets of sand and mud. They live offshore and are unbothered in temperatures ranging from 33° to around 54°, sometimes swimming in even lower temperatures farther up the coast.

Just because most Yellowtail Flounder live in deep water, anywhere from 10 to 100 m, does not mean that they cannot be found easily in more shallow water. Yellowtail Flounder avoid rocks, soft mud, and stony floor beds.

Where Do Yellowtail Flounder Live?

The Yellowtail Flounder spends most of its days feeding as long as the sun is up. The daily routines of a sandy dab tend to start with the sunrise as they begin to feed and end when they finish at sunset.

They like to stay in deeper water and far from the shore. It tends to stick to the floor in sandy and muddy areas.

The sandy dab migrates through the seasons, traveling considerable distances. The migration does influence their daily life as the seasons change.

Food & Diet

The Yellowtail Flounder preys mostly on small crustaceans and amphipods. Yellowtail Flounder tend to eat during daylight hours, starting at daybreak and ending around sunset.

Their diet stays pretty consistent across the various stocks, though sea cucumber is heavily introduced to the diet of the Gulf of Maine stock.

What Do Yellowtail Flounder Eat?

Yellowtail Flounders main activity in life is eating. They start at sunrise and continue foraging for food until sunset.

Some of the things that have been found in their stomach include mysids, cumaceans, isopods, and sculpins.

While sandy dabs eat all day, their stomachs are not usually full when they are caught in traps. Yellowtail Flounder also eat cusk, bivalve mollusks, sand lance, cnidarians, echinoderms, univalve, small crabs, and shrimps. They eat many small fish and crustaceans.

Most of the food that the Yellowtail Flounder searches to consume live near the Yellowtail Flounder or are near as they migrate. They also eat worms found in the sand in which they inhabit.

The stock of Yellowtail Flounder that live in the Gulf of Maine eat sizable more sea cucumbers than the other stocks of Yellowtail Flounder due to its availability. The other stocks of Yellowtail Flounder do not include sea cucumber in their diet.

Threats & Predators

The biggest threats to the Yellowtail Flounder are mostly other fish and sea creatures. Some fish target the young, while others are the more mature. Either way, Yellowtail Flounder tend to fear other fish more than humans.

Human Threats

Humans still pose a threat as Yellowtail Flounder are part of dishes in North-East America and Canada. Most places do not have any requirements for the number of Yellowtail Flounder.

The lifespan of a Yellowtail Flounder is short, even without the introduction of humans, at only about seven years, although they can live up to seventeen years.

Climate Change & Global Warming

Global warming does not pose much of a threat to the Yellowtail Flounder. As the Yellowtail Flounder is comfortable in a wide range of temperatures, it is not too concerned with rising water levels or temperatures.

Sandy dabs usually breed best in colder temperatures; global warming may lead to a lower population of Yellowtail Flounder.


The Yellowtail Flounder’s greatest threats are mostly Spiny Dogfish and Atlantic Cod but some of the other threats to the Yellowtail Flounder include the blue shark, monkfish, skates,

Atlantic halibut, longhorn sculpin, cod, and goosefish. Yellowtail Flounder are also eaten by hake, fourspot flounder, gray seal, and bluefish on occasion. The Atlantic Mackerel also eats Yellowtail Flounder but usually preys only on its larvae.

Other Threats

Most of the threats to the Yellowtail Flounders are other fish and sea creatures or humans. They are a common fish caught in trawl nets and gillnets. Yellowtail Flounders are eaten by a mix of animals and humans posing their largest threat.

Conservation Status

Yellowtail Flounder are not on the endangered species list. However, they are considered Vulnerable by the IUCN.

These fish are still fished commercially without a limit in certain waters, though it has been reduced in some places to allow for repopulation.

There are some regulations about the size and weight to allow for population growth and stop overfishing.

Fun Facts About Yellowtail Flounder

  • They grow faster than other flatfish, maturing in about three years.
  • Yellow Sole, rusty dab, and sandy dab are nicknames for the Yellowtail Flounder.
  • A Yellowtail Flounder can live up to seventeen years!
  • Yellowtail Flounder have small teeth.
  • Both its eyes are on the same (right) side of its face.
  • The Yellowtail Flounder is part of the Pleuronectidae family.
  • Their favorite place to live is the sandy ocean floor, though they are also partial to mud.
  • Overfishing has led to the Yellowtail Flounder becoming labeled as Vulnerable.
  • There are four stocks of Yellowtail Flounder, depending on where they live.

Add comment