Pogonias Cromis, commonly known as Black Drum or Drums, is the biggest member of the family and contains nearly 300 kinds of fish, along with its well-known relative, the Redfish. Most interestingly, because of the recurrent percussion or warbling noises they produce, they are also described as Drums or croakers.

The scientific name “Pogonias Cromis” is derived from a Greek term that translates for the word “beard,” which in turn refers to the barbels on the bottom jaw that it employs when searching for food on the seafloor. They are known to display strangely organized behavior of roaming throughout an oyster bed en masse.


Black drum fish weigh between 2.8 and 81 lbs. and have oval frames and stubby heads with somewhat blunted snouts. The Black Drums have very robust dorsal fins and skin. Furthermore, their canines resemble paving stones. Also, on the bottom of their mouth, Black Drums are somewhere around 10-15 barbels or whiskers, which they employ when searching for food around the seafloor. Depending on experience and surroundings, the Black Drums can certainly change their pigmentation. 

Black drums have a robust dorsal fin and a silver colored belly
Black drums have a robust dorsal fin and a silver-colored belly

Typically, the bodies of younger Black Drums have vertical black bands. If the Black Drums have been existing in sediment or murky water, their color scheme is black or dark translucent. For example, specimens that reside in the Gulf of Mexico look lighter. Older Black Drums typically have pale bellies, but appearance throughout this genus varies considerably, with the barbels being its most readily identified.


Black Drums juveniles consume worms and are tiny, while Black Drums larvae primarily consume planktons. Mature Black Drums consume mostly mollusks and crustaceans, and they are predominantly bottom feeders.

It has been observed that they eat in intertidal zones with their mouths lowered, leading to their fins being visible just above the surface. Their sharp mandible barbels aid in locating prey, and their powerful teeth break open the shells of oysters. According to reports, a large 45 lbs Drumsum might consume around 40 oysters a day while living in captivity.

Black Drums form schools and partake in the “Drum Run.” This happens a month or so before the primary reproductive season. The Black Drums gather in intertidal zones and travel in large numbers through oyster shell fields.


Black Drums are typically located in regions with sand or muddy terrains. Moreover, this species hangs out around close to food sources. The Black Drums migrate from shallower regions to greater estuaries during winter time. Drums are susceptible to temperature changes in the ocean and have been reported to instantly wipe out large numbers of species.

They thrive in water that is between 53 and 89 degrees Fahrenheit. The Black Drums can be found through Mexico to the Atlantic coastlines on the east of the continental US. All in all, the Gulf of Mexico is where one can find the most Black Drums. 


When the weather starts to warm up in the months of March and April, Black Drums commence reproducing on beaches and estuaries. Male Black Drums make significant pounding sounds to signal their intentions to females. Just on specific evenings, whenever their reproductive organs are bursting with eggs, can females react. 

Black drums reproduce through external fertilization
Black drums reproduce through external fertilization

They begin a courtship pursuit when the female finally acknowledges the male’s interaction. Males bump the flanks of the female throughout this pursuit, causing the female to discharge her eggs. As the male sperm and female eggs combine, a fog is created. After just one day, the eggs begin to develop.


Black Drums have a whole host of natural predators; any carnivorous species in the Atlantic can and will attack them. However, the most significant threat to Black Drums is mas fishing operations. But on a positive note, they are not a threatened species; their numbers are healthy, and there are government regulations against overfishing this species.

The main threats to black drums are overfishing, habitat loss, and pollution
The main threats to black drums are overfishing, habitat loss, and pollution

Facts about the Black Drums

  1. Black Drums can produce sounds between 100-500 Hz.
  2. Black Drums barbels are acute sensory appendages.
  3. Black Drums can live for more than 30 years.
  4. The largest Black Drum on record is 113 lbs.
  5. Black Drums swimming bladder allows for distinct Drumsumming sounds.


Why is it called Black Drum?

Black Drums have an elevated back and are grayish or dark in hue. Its conventional nickname came from a big, intricate swim bladder that, when resonating with the aid of specific muscles, may generate bellowing or pounding noises.

Why do Black Drums make noise?

Black Drums use the audible swim bladder to produce noises related to mating and reproducing. During the mating season, Drums begin to produce a drumming sound every night at dark and last for many hours following midnight.

Are Black Drums dangerous to humans?

While Black Drums have strong jaws that can crunch clams or other shellfish, and their canines are curved, they are not particularly an aggressive species. There aren’t any reported instances of Black Drums ever harming humans, so while scuba diving, an encounter with them won’t result in anything lethal, despite how big they may seem for a fish.

What has kept Black Drums populations stable?

A whole host of reasons ranging from government interventions all the way to natural advantages. Black Drums has no competitors for its dietary availability. The majority of marine animals cannot penetrate oyster or crustacean skin, but the Black Drums can, so its teeth can be credited for their vast numbers.

Pogonias Cromis

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