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What is a Louvar?

J.L. Drede
J.L. Drede

The louvar is a fish that inhabits the temperate and tropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indians oceans. It is most often found in the Gulf of Mexico, the coasts of Norway, along the Mediterranean, in the Western Pacific near Japan and off the coast of Cape Point in South Africa. The louvar is a perciform fish, meaning it is perch-like and ray-finned.

It is closely related to the surgeonfish, but much larger. While the surgeonfish usually only reaches a maximum length of 11 inches (30 cm), the louvar can grow up to 6 feet (1.8 m) in length and can weigh up to 330 pounds (150 kg). Unlike the surgeonfish it is not a common aquarium fish, most likely due to its large size. It is the only species of the Luvaridae family of fish.


The fish stands out for several reasons in addition to its large size. Its most notable feature is its large bulging forehead that forces its eyes and mouth very low in its profile. Its coloring is also unusual when compared to other fish of its size. The body itself is usually silver, but it often some slight orange or pink coloration that extend to its bright fins and tail.

Not much much is known about the louvar. It is rarely seen by humans and when it is it is usually already dead, having washed up on shore. When it is spotted it is usually found both in deep and shallow waters. It is a solitary fish, only seen with other louvar during the late spring months, when it is known to spawn. The diet of the fish is primarily jellyfish and similar animals. Despite its massive size and fearsome appearance, the fish is entirely harmless to humans.

Although the louvar is rarely seen, fishermen have been known to catch the fish, usually when casting for similarly-sized fish like marlin. It is also occasionally seen for sale in fish markets, but not often. Fish markets that get the fish with any regularity will usually advertise the fact since it is considered a delicacy. Cuts of the fish are white, thick, and according to some who have eaten it, very juicy. Its taste has been compared to halibut and swordfish. Since it is an exceptionally rare fish it is not cheap; an order of louvar at a restaurants can be one of the most expensive dishes on the menu.

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