Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Polymixia lowei, Beardfish beardfish, the beardfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

body depth <36% SL
D 26-32
gill rakers 14-22



Polymixia lowei Gunther, 1859


Body elongate (depth <36% of SL),  compressed, oval in cross-section; eye large; snout rounded and prominent; mouth ~horizontal, lower jaw shorter, extends past rear of eye, with 2 extra bones above expanded main rear bone; teeth minute, in bands, on tongue as well as jaws and on center, sides and rear of roof of mouth; 7 rays (1st 3 minute, only last 4 visible) on membrane under gill cover; a pair of long barbells under lower jaws, well behind chin; 14-22  gill rakers; dorsal and anal fin with spines; 1 dorsal fin, long base IV-VI, 26-32; anal fin III-IV, 15-18; pelvics origin behind pectorals; tail fin forked, with spines on upper and lower base; scales spiny, moderately large, 31-37 with lateral line pores.

Body and head bluish to greenish silver, brown along top of body; barbells and sides silver white; dark front tips of dorsal and anal fins, dark rear tips of tail fin.

Reaches 25 cm.

Bottom living on soft-bottoms.

Depth range: 50-940 m, usually below 150 m.

Maine to Brazil.


Note: The population off the southwest Caribbean is a separate species, while the status of the population of the rest of Caribbean and Brazil relative to that in the Gulf of Mexico and E USA is not known.

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  • Marine Only
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Mud
  • Soft bottom only
FishBase Habitat
  • Bathydemersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
  • Bony fishes
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • All species.
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Continent
  • All species..
  • Also in Brazil
  • Island (s)
  • Extends North of GC
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Extends South of GC
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Least concern
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 25
Depth Range Min
  • 50
Depth Range Max
  • 940