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Species: Gymnothorax vicinus, Purplemouth Moray

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snout & jaws elongate
gold iris
mouth corner - small dark spot
color 1: body & fins - overlapping dark spots
color 2: dark + darker freckles, fins pale edges
teeth slender, smooth, some canines
roof mouth - 1 row teeth

Gymnothorax vicinus (Castelnau, 1855)

Purplemouth Moray

Body elongate, compressed at rear; tail tapering; head and trunk slightly shorter than 1/2 TL; snout and jaws elongate and pointed; eye slightly before middle of mouth; front nostril a simple tube; rear nostril a rimmed hole at level of profile of head; lower jaw straight, mouth closes completely; teeth strong, smooth, canines at front of jaws; a row of 5-6 large outer teeth (flanked by 3-9 tiny teeth) at top front of mouth, a row of 3 long slender fangs in between; top jaw with 1 row of 15-21 pointed teeth, plus an inner row at front of 1-3 inner teeth; roof of mouth with 1 row of 6-14 small teeth, well behind the central fangs; lower jaw with 11-23 teeth in a single row, the front 4 enlarged and flanked by 2-8 tiny teeth; gill opening round to a slit; dorsal and anal fins covered with skin, but evident; dorsal origin on head, before gill opening.

Color is highly variable; ground color is whitish to dark, densely overlaid by small dark purplish brown spots; a dark horizontal slash at corner of mouth; outer margin of dorsal and anal fins black, narrowly edged in white; snout and head often with purple cast; iris gold; inside mouth purple; young are dark, with a white lower jaw.

Reaches 122 cm.

Lives in reef habitats, also found in rocks in seagrass beds.

Depth range: 2-280 m, usually < 50 m.

The E, C and W Atlantic; New Jersey to Brazil.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Rocks
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Submerged vegetation
  • Corals
  • Mangrove
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • Transatlantic (East+West Atlantic)
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 122
Depth Range Min
  • 2
Depth Range Max
  • 280