Fin-tastic Facts About The Patagonian Toothfish For Kids

Patagonian Toothfish Facts, for all seafood fans.

Are you a seafood lover? Then you must have come across Chilean seabass, which is none other than the Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides). Though it may seem unappealing and expensive on the cost front, Patagonian toothfish make an excellent dish on your plate.

Found in the southern oceans of the planet, these fishes live in utmost cold temperates and are deep-sea animals. Did you know how the Patagonian toothfish got its name? It is a combination of the region where it was discovered (Patagonia, South America) and its pointy teeth. It was later renamed Chilean seabass, for the seafood distributors forecasted Patagonian toothfish would not sound enticing.

The South Georgia toothfish fishery, the Ross Sea fishery, the Heard Island and McDonald Islands fishery, the Macquarie Island toothfish fishery, The Falkland Islands toothfish fishery (British Overseas Territory) are a few of the toothfish fisheries to attain MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certification for fishing these species. Several regulations are imposed on toothfish fishery to restrict illegal fishing and are continuously monitored till the point of final consumption.

If learning about fishes amuses you, then continue reading the article about Patagonian toothfish; also, check out the recent articles on warmouth and tilefish.

Patagonian Toothfish

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Squid, crabs, prawns, and small fish

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

48,000-500,000 eggs

How much do they weigh?

220 lb (100 kg)

How long are they?

7.5 ft (2.3 m)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Brown to gray

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Sperm whales, Southern elephant seals, humans, colossal squids

What is their conservation status?

Not Evaluated

Where you'll find them

Aquatic habitats


Southern Atlantic, Southern Ocean, Pacific, and the Indian Ocean





Scientific Name

Dissostichus eleginoides





Patagonian Toothfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Patagonian toothfish?

Patagonian toothfish is a fish, and its scientific name Dissostichus eleginoides. They are vertebrates animals containing gills, scales, and fins on their bodies.

What class of animal does a Patagonian toothfish belong to?

Patagonian toothfish belong to the class of Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes).

How many Patagonian toothfish are there in the world?

The exact number of toothfish located in the oceans is difficult to determine. Around 30,000 tons of global toothfish catch are recorded. Several organizations monitor the rate of fish and the extent of fishing on different species in the world.

Where does a Patagonian toothfish live?

The oceans host these bottom-dwelling fishes. They are found at a depth of the ocean as deep as 150-12,630 ft. They are primarily seen in the southern Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans. Seamounts, Southern Ocean, and continental shelves across Subantarctic islands are also where they reside.

What is a Patagonian toothfish's habitat?

The Patagonian toothfish habitat is aquatic. They belong to the species of Notothen (cod icefishes). They live in cold waters as low as 34–39 °F and are deep water fishes. They can even survive extremely cold temperatures of Subantarctic islands.

Who do Patagonian toothfish live with?

Juvenile toothfishes that prefer shallow waters are seen in groups, whereas adult deep-dwelling fishes live alone.

How long does a Patagonian toothfish live?

The Chilean seabass live for an astonishing 50 years and reach 250 lb. However, they are fished at 10-12 years of age when their weight is around 20 lb.

How do they reproduce?

Like most fishes, reproduction in fishes happens through broadcast spawning (asexual reproduction). Several females and males release their eggs and sperms simultaneously into the water. They lay around 48,000-500,000 eggs per spawning season. Patagonian toothfish age at maturity by six to nine years.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of these tasty fishes is not evaluated. However, these fishes are highly vulnerable to overfishing. Being luxury seafood in the USA, Japan, and Europe, high international demand leads to illegal fishing of toothfish. This is the reason why several marine fisheries around the world control fishing of this exotic species.

CCAMLR annually monitors IUU (illegal, unreported, and unregulated) fishing activities and any fishing vessels involved in illegal catches and implements various conservation measures. It is estimated that during 1997, illegal catches were around 32,000 tons, with about 55 fishing vessels. Both Patagonian toothfish and Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) are the target species for many fishermen as there is a high demand for these fishes.

Patagonian Toothfish Fun Facts

What do Patagonian toothfish look like?

The Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) is a large species of deep-sea fish. It is a relatively strong fish with a lean body that gradually narrows at both ends. They are named after their tooth, the lower jaw of the fish is protruding, and the upper jaw has sharp teeth, making them an excellent predator. They are found in brown to gray and contains large and smooth scales. The pectoral fins (side fins) are fan-like; they have two dorsal fins, the first fin contains spines. The most predominant way to identify the species is through its wide mouth, large lower lip, large eyes, and gill plates.

Though they are bottom-dwelling fish, they frequently visit continental shelves around islands for feeding.

Purchase Merluza Negra from the authorized fishery.
*Please note, this is an image of a giant seabass. If you have an image of a Patagonian toothfish, do get in touch at

How cute are they?

By the look of the fish, they are not cute. They instead have a displeasing appearance. But if you are a foodie, who possesses a particular interest in seafood, then this fish might undoubtedly make you happy.

How do they communicate?

Like all fish, the Patagonian toothfish communicates through sound, smell, motion, or electrical impulses.

How big is a Patagonian toothfish?

They can reach up to 7.5 ft (2.3 m) in length. They are almost the same size as Blue marlin.

How fast can a Patagonian toothfish swim?

It is a known fact that fishes swim fast. The accurate speed of this species is though not determined; they are considered to be fast-moving fish, active predators, and scavengers.

How much does a Patagonian toothfish weigh?

On average Patagonian toothfish reaches 5–22 lb (7–10 kg), but sometimes adult fishes exceed 220 lb (100 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

We can term the female fish as female Patagonian toothfish and male as male Patagonian toothfish.

What would you call a baby Patagonian toothfish?

Baby Patagonian toothfish are called larvae, and after a few years, they become juveniles. The eggs and larvae of these fish live in relatively shallow waters, and once they turn juveniles, they consume abundant prey like squid, fish, and crustaceans, thereby as they grow, they move to the depths of the ocean.

What do they eat?

The majority of their diet includes squid, crustaceans (crabs, shrimp, krill, lobsters), and fish. Their main predators are Colossal squid, Sperm whales, and Southern elephant seals.

Are they rare?

The remoteness of the principal fishing grounds and the high cost associated with effective surveillance, and the demand for the fish in the market resulted in IUU (illegal, unreported, and unregulated) fishing. It is not easy to procure this fish for these reasons. Hence we can consider it as rare to an extent.

As a conservation measure, Patagonian toothfish fishery is established at many places like Ross Sea fishery, the Heard Island and McDonald Islands fishery, the Macquarie Island toothfish fishery, to name a few.

Would they make a good pet?

The Patagonian toothfish lives in the ocean and is a medium-sized fish. It would not fit your aquarium or fish tank! Small and colorful fish can beautify your house; Patagonian toothfish wouldn't be an option for someone who likes to have a pet because it is a deep-living fish and survives in the coldest waters. They are also not very pretty to look at.

Did you know...

A close relative of Patagonian toothfish is the Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni), which almost looks similar. Recipes of both of these toothfishes are marketed as Chilean seabass.

The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR ) manages the commercial fishing of Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) around the Antarctic continent. When it comes to Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, toothfish fisheries of respective coastal states manage commercial fishing outside the CCAMLR convention area. The CCAMLR controls these toothfish fisheries from the point of unloading to the point of final consumption.

The Patagonian toothfish vs Chilean sea bass topic is not really a debate as they refer to the same fish. To make it more appealing to the American market, fisherman Lee Lantz in 1977 changed the name of Patagonian toothfish to Chilean sea bass. Both Patagonian toothfish and Antarctic toothfish are named Chilean seabass, as Chileans were first to market these fish, and surprisingly, they are not always found in Chilean water, nor are they bass fish.

It is sold under the trade name Merluza Negra in Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, and Mero in Japan. Due to its high price it fetches in the market, they are termed 'white gold' in the commercial fishing industry.

In the early 2000s, illegal fishing of Patagonian toothfish was a severe problem; this has significantly reduced the stocks of toothfish in some areas.

As a part of conservation measures, it has been listed on the seafood watch list under Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The USA and other countries impose various restrictions to allow toothfish imports to ensure Patagonian toothfish overfishing is prohibited.

To avoid the adverse effect on target species, the CCAMLR imposes various compliance systems to monitor fishing activities.

COLTO - The Coalition of Legal Toothfish Operators, Inc. is a toothfish fishing industry that controls 80% of the legal toothfish catch worldwide.

What fish was originally known as Patagonian toothfish?

In 1970 the first Patagonian toothfish juveniles were captured unintentionally (bycatch) in South America. Later in 1987, larger adults were caught as bycatch and marketed as Chilean seabass. Soon they became a massive success due to their delicious taste and acceptance by seafood enthusiasts.

Eating Patagonian toothfish

Chilean seabass makes excellent dishes and no wonder why Patagonian toothfish price is so high. Patagonian toothfish steak makes good-sized fillets of buttery white meat with a firm texture. When it comes to the flavor of the fish, it has a mild non-fishy flavor. High-fat content makes these recipes melt in the mouth; it is most famous as a unique and mild-tasting fish that blends with the flavors of sauces and spices.

Though the Patagonian toothfish taste is luscious to many, due to its high mercury levels, a consumption advisory was issued by EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) not to consume Patagonian toothfish no more than two meals per month for adults and one meal for young children.

Are you looking to buy Patagonian toothfish and cook them? Some of the all-time favorite Patagonian toothfish recipes are Patagonian toothfish with red pepper and pan-seared Chilean sea bass.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including herring, or codfish.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our fangtooth herring coloring pages.

*Please note the main image is of a seabass, not the Chilean seabass. If you have an image of the Patagonian toothfish, please let us know!



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