Cobia is the only species in the family Rachycentridae. Remoras (Family Echeneidae) are their closest relative. The scientific name for cobia is Rachycentron canadum, which is derived from two Greek words: rachis (vertebral column) and kentron (sharp point). This name refers to their 7-9 extremely sharp, retractable, dorsal spines. Cobia is a pelagic fish which occurs worldwide in all tropical and temperate seas, except for the eastern Pacific Ocean. Cobia prefer water temperatures between 20°C - 30°C; they migrate south to warmer waters during autumn and winter then journey back north when temperatures rise again in the spring. Globally, there is no significant cobia fishery, this is because adults are often solitary or travel with just a few other individuals. This has created a market for farm-raised Cobia.
The beauty of cobia is its remarkable versatility. With cobia, the culinary possibilities are diverse. Cobia holds together so well it can be skewered and dropped on the grill, or just barbequed as a steak or fillet with your favorite marinade. It is mild flavored, so can be used in a wide variety of dishes from pastas to curries and ceviche to plain old fish and chips. After cooking cobia becomes extremely white and has large succulent flakes of meat. Raw cobia is firm and flavorful yet soft and juicy, just perfect for sushi and sashimi and comparable to tuna or Chilean Seabass in texture. And never pass up the opportunity to sample smoked cobia: whether prepared using the hot or cold technique, smoked cobia is truly sublime.
Farm-raised in open-ocean net pens, not only is cobia a very tasty fish, it also grows very quickly: they reach 6-7kg one year after hatching (three times the growth rate of Atlantic salmon). These characteristics make cobia an appealing aquaculture species. Their natural spawning season is from April to September. Fertilized eggs are positively buoyant which means they are easy to collect from the surface of the tank. Over the next few weeks the larvae will be weaned onto successively larger sizes of zooplankton and finally onto dry feed. The fast growing larvae need to be monitored closely and sorted frequently since the larger fish will eat the smaller. The juveniles will have reached 1g in five to six weeks by which time they are ready to be transported to the nursery site until they reach market size.