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Species: Ophichthus puncticeps, Palespotted eel, Palespotted snake eel

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

head pores dark; LL row pale spots
D origin ~at pectoral tip
tail 51-56% TL
center roof mouth - 1 row teeth

Ophichthus puncticeps (Kaup, 1860)

Palespotted snake eel, Palespotted eel

Body cylindrical, moderately robust, stouter than tail; tail 51-56% of TL;  head broad, flattened, triangular from above; snout broad, overhanging; eye large, over middle of mouth; front nostril a tube, longer at back than front; rear nostril entirely outside mouth, well before eye, covered with a small flap; mouth large; teeth conical, small, no fangs, roof of mouth with  1-3 pairs at front, then 1 row of 11-14 that are smaller to the rear, jaws with 2 rows of teeth; top jaw with outer row of 17-25, inner row of 13-24; lower jaw with 2 rows of 17-29, outer row larger; dorsal origin before, over, or just behind tips of pectorals, rear part of fin with short, erect spiny rays, then an expanded section of fin; pectoral fin 30-45% of head length, pointed, with restricted base - opposite and above upper half of gill opening; tip of tail a blunt, finless point; lateral line complete, lines of each side of head connected by 2 canals with across top of head.

Greenish brown above, white below; a row of 18-22 evenly spaced white or pale eye-size spots along lateral line; spots less obvious in larger fish, which have a red-brown stripe along lateral line appearing as dark slashes between the pale spots; dorsal fin with dark edge and a conspicuous black area at rear; head and snout dark, with white dashes and dots; head pores in dark spots.

Reaches 92.7 cm.

On muddy bottoms.

Depth range: 0-900 m, usually 5-40 m.

N Carolina to Suriname.


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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Soft bottom only
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Sand & gravel
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
  • Bony fishes
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
Egg Type
  • Pelagic larva
  • Pelagic
  • Data
Global Endemism
  • All species.
  • West Atlantic Endemic
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Continent
  • All species..
  • Continent only
  • Extends South of GC
  • Extends North of GC
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Least concern
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 92.7
Depth Range Min
  • 20
Depth Range Max
  • 900