Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Alphestes afer, Mutton Hamlet

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

head deep, profile straight
snout < eye
D XI, 17-19
dark bars + dark & light spots
C rounded
teeth depressible
preoperculum: strong hidden spine points forwards

Alphestes afer (Bloch, 1793)

Mutton Hamlet

Body deep, strongly compressed; head deep, with straight, oblique front profile; large eyes, close together on tip of snout; snout shorter than eye; preopercle serrated, with large forward-curving spine hidden at lower front corner; rear of top jaw exposed when mouth closed; roof of mouth with small teeth; 3-5 rows of small teeth on each jaw, a pair of small canines at front of both jaws, most of teeth movable; gill rakers 22-25; dorsal with XI spines, 17-29 rays, with little or no notch between spiny and soft parts; anal rays III,9; pectoral rays 16-17; tail rounded; flank scales smooth; 55-61 scales on lateral line.

Olive to light brown with darker brown blotches forming irregular bars on side; also numerous dark brown and pale spots, and larger pale blotches on head and body; iris red; pectoral fins with brown spots forming bars.

Size: reaches 33 cm.

Habitat: secretive, in sponges, rocks around seagrass.

Depth: 0-35 m.

Bermuda to Brazil; also found in the tropical E Atlantic.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Rocks
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Submerged vegetation
  • Corals
  • 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 only
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 33
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 35