Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Opistognathus lonchurus, Moustache Jawfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

yellow-brown; blue: eye, lips, cheek stripe
body: 3 thin blue stripes
fins yellow + blue stripes
top jaw: slightly expanded & ovate at rear

Opistognathus lonchurus Jordan & Gilbert, 1882

Moustache Jawfish

Elongate, compressed, tapering body; large bulbous head; eye large, high; front nostril a short tube without a cirrus; mouth terminal, large, extends well to rear of eye; rear of top jaw oval, only slightly expanded; front of roof of mouth with teeth; gill rakers 34-62; fin spines flexible;dorsal and anal fins with long bases; dorsal XI, 12-13; anal III, 12-13; pelvic fins I, 5, outer 2 rays stout and unbranched, inner 3 rays weaker and branched, outer soft ray not tightly bound to next ray, fin short, fin base before the pectoral; tail rounded, shorter than head, ~25% of SL; lateral line on front half of body only, high; scales small, smooth, none on head.

Head and body yellowish-brown; top lips and iris blue; a blue stripe along cheek onto operculum; inner lining of top jaw and adjacent membranes pale; two thin blue stripes along mid flank from the operculum to the base of the tail fin, another blue line along upper body; dorsal and anal fins pale orange with blue stripes along their bases, edges and centers; tail with orange-yellow rays, blue membranes between the rays, and blue top and bottom edges.

Reaches 15.2 cm.

In burrows on silty sand and rubble bottoms.

Depth range: 10-101 m.

S Carolina to Brazil.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
Egg Type
  • Brooded
  • Data
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
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)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 15.2
Depth Range Min
  • 10
Depth Range Max
  • 101