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Species: Opistognathus robinsi, Spotfin Jawfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

body & fins dark, + rows white spots
nostril cirrus simple
D ocellus spines II-VII
top jaw lining - black stripe (male)
top jaw ends in long thin, flexible plate
inside throat all dark

Opistognathus robinsi Smith-Vaniz, 1997

Spotfin Jawfish

Elongate, compressed, tapering body; large bulbous head; eye large, high; front nostril a short tube with a simple cirrus; mouth terminal, large, extends well to rear of eye; rear of top jaw ending in a thin flexible plate, slightly elongate in female, very elongate in male (extends beyond edge of operculum); front of roof of mouth with 1-5 large, blunt teeth; 28-35 gill rakers; fin spines flexible; dorsal and anal fins with long bases; dorsal X-XI, 15-18, spines thin and flexible, with curved tips that lack swollen fleshy tabs; anal II-III, 16-18; pelvic fins I, 5, outer 2 rays stout and unbranched, inner 3 rays weaker and branched, 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, body with 73-88 oblique scale rows.

Brown to nearly black, mottled with shades of brown, no dark spots on scales, no dark bars; dark reticulations on head and nape; body with white spots and blotches; dorsal fin with a prominent large, ocellus with a wide bright white ring between spines III-VII, rest of fin dark, with numerous white spots; pectoral often with pale spots and speckling; rear of inside mouth uniformly dark; inner lining of top jaw and adjacent membranes of adult males with 1 black stripe on a white background, no stripe or a brown stripe in females; tail fin dark, with 2 pale spots at base, and 2-3 pale irregular bars; anal fin with pale base, outer ½ dark, with white spots.

Reaches 15.9 cm.

Lives in burrows on sand and rubble bottoms.

Depth range: 1-46 m, usually less than 20 m.

N Carolina to Texas.

Note: Closely related to both O. macrognathus and to O. brasiliensis, which is endemic 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
  • 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
  • Continent
  • Continent only
  • Extends North of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 15.9
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 46