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Species: Opistognathus melachasme, Megamouth Jawfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

body lavender + 3 red spots
head red above, orange below
inside mouth yellow, black at rear
D: X, I-V black
top jaw: long rear blade

Opistognathus melachasme Smith-Vaniz, 1972

Megamouth Jawfish

Elongate, compressed, tapering body; large bulbous head; eye large, high; front nostril a short tube, without a cirrus; mouth terminal, large, extends well behind eye, its rear end with a thin, flexible extension that, in males, extends back to edge of operculum; no teeth on center of roof of mouth; gill rakers 27-30; fin spines flexible; dorsal and anal fins with long bases; dorsal X, 13-14, spines with tips flexible, curved, slender; anal II, 12-13; pelvic fins I, 5, fin base before the pectoral; tail rounded, much shorter than head; lateral line on front half of body only, high; scales small, smooth; scales absent from head, nape, pectoral base and breast, small areas behind pelvics and above lateral line, 48-51 lateral scale rows.

Body lavender along sides, with 3 red spots (1st above pectoral base, 2nd just past pectoral tip, last behind anal fin origin; top and sides of head red; end of top jaws pinkish, lower jaws and throat orange-yellow; inside mouth yellow, with rear of top jaw and surrounding area black; dorsal fin black across front 5-6 spines, rest of fin with lavender lower ½, red outer ½, outer edge black; anal fin reddish, peppered with black; tail fin pinkish; pelvic fins blackish, with reddish tinge; pectorals colorless. Juvenile: lavender, dorsal fin with eye-size , white ringed black ocellus at front, rest of fin yellow.

Reaches 9.5 cm.

Lives on sand & rubble bottoms.

Depth range: 145-265 m.

The NW Caribbean.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • 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
  • Bathydemersal
  • 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 endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • GC endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 9.5
Depth Range Min
  • 145
Depth Range Max
  • 265