Halibut and flounder are flatfish that are found at the bottom of the ocean and are considered bottom feeders. The term halibut comes from the Middle English word “halybutte” which stands for “holy flatfish.” It became popular in the Catholic holy days where eating meat was forbidden due to the religious beliefs. Flounder is a general term for flatfish so therefore meaning that a halibut is technically a form of a flounder however a flounder is not always a halibut. These flatfish are delicious and fun to catch. They may have similarities, but they also have many distinctive disparities among the different species.
Flounder are smaller than halibut and rarely grow over thirty pounds. They have rounded tails and they also have rounded bodies filled with much thicker scales. Flounder also have a bit of uniqueness to them. Their eyes can migrate. During the growth cycle due to metamorphosis their eyes will migrate to either the right or left side of their head depending on the species of flounder. The flounder’s mouth is smaller, but they have prominent teeth that’s slightly protrude from its mouth.
Halibut are much bigger in size than normal flatfish. The International Game Fish Association has pacific halibut and Atlantic halibut records sitting well over 400 pounds making them much larger and longer than flounders. A halibut’s tail has a pointy and forked appearance to it. They have large mouths with cone shaped heads and teeth. In comparison to the flounder halibuts are born with eyes on both sides of their heads causing them to swim like a salmon and within their growth cycle one eye will slowly migrate to the most common spot on the right side of their head and they will then swim sideways. The coloring of this fish usually remains a darker brown or mottled green while the underbelly will remain white for the duration of its life.
Living conditions and eating habits of a flounder
Flounder live everywhere from the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of Maine and all along the US pacific coast down into Mexico remaining hugely popular in gulf coast towns. As most flatfish the flounder is found living on the ocean floor in a mainly camouflaged environment the only visible part of them is usually their eyes because they bury themselves beneath the sand. They can change their body colors depending on their environmental features so they can blend in more appropriately this will also hide them from potential predators. The color of the flounder can also be an indicator of the emotional state of the flatfish. A flounder with a paler appearance is usually feeling threatened. They are known as carnivores typically eating fish, shrimp, and crabs. They are considered ambush predators because they will remain motionless as they wait for their prey to come by and then quickly grabbing them. They will spend the entirety of their life at the bottom of the ocean.
Living conditions and eating habits of a halibut
The halibut live farther north than other flounder species they are most commonly found in the central Gulf of Alaska. The larval halibut will prey upon tiny floating organisms called plankton. In their juvenile stage of life, they tend to eat small crustaceans and the other small organisms that live on the ocean floor. In adulthood they prey on a variety of fish, crabs, clams, octopus and sometimes even the smaller halibut. Sometimes marine animals and sharks will prey on the halibut. However, since the halibut are large in size the adults are rarely prey upon. Spending most of their time near the bottom of the ocean halibut may swim up to feed.
Mating and lifecycle of flounder and halibut
A flounder will reach the sexual maturity age around two years of life. For flounders the mating seasons take place during the warmest months out of the year, and they will migrate to deeper waters. A female will release an estimated of anywhere from 500,000 eggs upwards of two million in the water at the same time the male will release the sperm cell needed to fertilize the eggs. The eggs will then float to the surface and dependable on the temperatures these fertilized eggs will hatch. Upon hatching the baby fish called fry will drift with the currents until the eventually reach a shallower shoreline. Once reaching 3 centimeters they take the flatfish shape, and their eye will migrate. Once metamorphosis is complete the fish will sink to the ocean floor and begin a bottom dwelling life. The flounder’s lifespan can last between three to ten years. Halibut will reach sexual maturity in females from the ages of eight to twelve years and for the males’ sexual maturity between seven and eight years. Halibut breed similarly to the flounder by releasing their eggs and sperm. Their eggs will gain buoyancy and float to the surface where they will hatch within a little over a two-week period. The halibut’s lifecycle remains close to the flounder with only sparse differences in the metamorphosis process. The halibut’s life span can last between twenty-five to thirty years which is much longer than the flounder.
Halibut and flounder both taste delicious and are staples in some countries. Halibut has a firm and more meaty taste making it perfect for the grill. Unlike the halibut, the flounder has a more fattier and thinner fillet which makes it perfect for baking or frying. Both of these fish would be seen falling under the category of superfoods because they offer incredible amounts of nutrients and health benefits. They offer high quality protein, they’re rich in micronutrients, and they improve your heart health.
Fishing for flatfish
Halibut and flounder still remain two of the country’s favorite fish. They are healthy for your body, delicious and they are entertaining to catch. When catching these fish, a circle hook would be a more appropriate choice for angler to use because the fish tend to bite slow which makes things difficult to get a good hookset. With the flounder’s aggressive nature, a 4/0 or 6/0 sized hook would be more suitable. Anglers will also want to use lead weights because these flatfish remain on the bottom of the ocean therefore needing the lead weight to get the hook and bait to attract a strike. One of the best baits that seem to be extremely effective for the picky flounders is the use of a live bait. To find the flounder and halibut an angler’s best luck would remain in jetties, riverbed entrances, open beaches, and estuaries. The best times to catch these flatfish are in the late summer and early fall months. However, fisherman can still catch them during spring and summer seasons as well. Fishing for the flounder with gigging or spear fishing can be a little easier during the nighttime since they are a nocturnal species. When fishing if an angler wants to produce a more attractive or trophy catch then fishing for a halibut will be an eye catcher as they remain large in their size.
The age-old question of “Is a flounder the same as a halibut?” can be answered. Halibut are indeed technically a flounder but not likewise as not all halibut are flounder due to the many different species. However, they both hold many differences. The main one being the appearance of the flatfish itself. When fishing an angler’s best hope to dictate whether it’s a halibut or flounder is the appearance. Whether fishing for halibut or flounder there still remain benefits for either one.