Flounder are a group of flatfish species. They are demersal fish found at the bottom of oceans around the world; some species will also enter estuaries.
The name flounder is used for several only distantly related species, though all are in the suborder Pleuronectoidei (families Achiropsettidae, Bothidae, Pleuronectidae, Paralichthyidae and Samaridae). Some of the better known species that are important in fisheries are:
Gulf flounder – Paralichthys albigutta
Southern flounder – Paralichthys lethostigma
Summer flounder (also known as fluke) – Paralichthys dentatus
Winter flounder – Pseudopleuronectes americanus
European flounder – Platichthys flesus
Olive flounder – Paralichthys olivaceus
An adult flounder has two eyes situated on one side of its head, while at hatching one eye is located on each side of its brain.
Flounder ambush their prey, feeding at soft muddy areas of the sea bottom, near bridge piles, docks and coral reefs.
A flounder’s diet consists mainly of fish spawn, crustaceans, polychaetes and small fish. Flounder typically grow to a length of 12.5–37.5 centimeters (4.9–14.8 in) and as large as 60 centimeters (24 in). Their width is about half their length. Male Platichthys are known to display a pioneering spirit, and have been found up to 80 miles off the coast of northern Sardinia, sometimes with heavy encrustations of various species of barnacle.
A flounder plays a prominent role in the German folk tale “The Fisherman and His Wife” collected by the Brothers Grimm and in Günter Grass’s novel The Flounder.
“Flounder” is the nickname given to the character Kent Dorfman (played by actor Stephen Furst) in the classic 1978 comedy film, Animal House.