Blackfish (Centrolophus niger) aka Rudderfish

Blackfish (aka Rudderfish) are oceanic pelagic fish.  They are relatively rare in waters around Shetland.  They are widely distributed through the North Atlantic and Mediterranean; also occur in the Southeast Atlantic and Indian Ocean and in the Southwest Pacific and in the Southern Ocean.  They have been recorded at depths between 40 and 1050 m, but most commonly between 300 – 700 m.  Juveniles tend to be found in shallower water than adults.

They are commonly around 60 cm in length but can grow to 150 cm.  They are spiny rayed fish with a long flexible dorsal fin composed of flexible spiny rays in the front part and soft rays in the hind part.   They are dark brown to black in colour, sometimes appearing almost bluish.

The distinctive features of C. niger are weak spines along the rear edge of the front gill cover; the depth of the body is less than one-third of the body length and the snout is slightly longer than the diameter of the eye.

The Cornish blackfish (Schedophilus medusophagus) is, at first glance similar in appearance.

Data sources: Muus, et. al. (1999) -

Black fish

Caught east of Shetland by the Guiding Light in October 2013. The specimen handed in was an 80cm female and weighed 6.1kg. Inside the stomach it was found that the intestines were full of parasites.

Black fish

Caught by the Guardian Angel on 10 January 2011 on the ‘Flugga’ fishing grounds to the north of Shetland (approximately 61°N 01°W). Total length 55 cm, whole weight 1.442 kg, immature female.


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