The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Tautoga onitis
Tautoga onitis
Marine Fishes
Native Transplant

Copyright Info
Tautoga onitis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common name: Tautog

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Manooch (1984); Robins and Ray (1986); Murdy et al. (1997).

Size: 91 cm, 10 kg.

Native Range: Marine; tautog are native to the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to South Carolina (Robins and Ray 1986).

Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: Two attempts have been made to stock these fish on the west coast. The first was made in 1873, when Livingston Stone made his famous ill-fated journey across the continent with east coast fishes in an aquarium railroad car. The entire shipment was lost in the Elkhorn River near Omaha, Nebraska, when a railroad bridge collapsed (Smith 1896). The tautogs did not survive. The second attempt was a year later. This time he made it to California. The tautogs were stocked in San Francisco Bay near Oakland (Smith 1896) but apparently did not take hold. A second attempt was made in 1897 when a few hundred more fish were stocked, again without success (Shebley 1917).

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Tautoga onitis are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
CA187419793California Region; San Francisco Bay; San Pablo Bay
NE187318731Lower Elkhorn

Table last updated 5/28/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Means of Introduction: Accidental in Nebraska, intentionally stocked in California.

Status: Extirpated in both Nebraska and California.

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

Remarks: DeKay (1842) wrote of stockings of this species in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. Reportedly the fish were taken from Rhode Island. Both DeKay (1842) and Goode (1884) stated that this was an attempt to expand the species' range southward, implying they did not already occur there. However, Jordan and Gilbert (1882) reported a specimen "Hiatula onitis" which was actually a tautog with a missing anal fin. The specimen was collected from Charleston, South Carolina, and sent to Linnaeus in the 1700s. Linnaeus named the fish Labrus hiatula in his work Systema Naturae in 1788. Therefore, the species must have been native to the Charleston area and is not considered introduced outside the native range in this location.

References: (click for full references)

DeKay, J.E. 1842. Natural history of New York. I. Zoology. Reptiles and fishes. Part IV - fishes. W.A. White and J. Visscher, Albany, NY.

Goode, G.B. 1884. The fisheries and fish industries of the United States. Section I: natural history of useful aquatic animals. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.

Jordan, D.S., and C.H. Gilbert. 1882. Synopsis of the fishes of North America. Bulletin of the U.S. National Museum 16. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.

Manooch, C.S. 1984. Fisherman's guide, fishes of the southwestern United States. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, NC.

Murdy, E.O., R.S. Birdsong, and J.A. Musick. 1997. Fishes of Chesapeake Bay. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC.

Robins, C.R., and G.C. Ray. 1986. A field guide to Atlantic Coast fishes of North America. The Peterson Guide Series, volume 32. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Shebley, W.H. 1917. History of introduction of food and game fishes into the waters of California. California Fish and Game 3:3-12.

Smith, H.M. 1896. A review of the history and results of the attempts to acclimatize fish and other water animals in the Pacific States. Bulletin of the U.S. Fish Commission for 1895, 15:379-472.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Fuller, P.

Revision Date: 4/20/2018

Peer Review Date: 1/31/2012

Citation Information:
Fuller, P., 2024, Tautoga onitis (Linnaeus, 1758): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=754, Revision Date: 4/20/2018, Peer Review Date: 1/31/2012, Access Date: 5/29/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [5/29/2024].

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