Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Phaeoptyx xenus, Sponge Cardinalfish

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snout round, yellowish
bases D2 & A: thin, faint stripe
tail base: short dark oval
lower gill rakers 14
body: multiple dots per scale

Phaeoptyx xenus (Bohlke & Randall, 1968)

Sponge Cardinalfish

Body oblong, compressed; head large, snout short, rounded; eye large; moderately large oblique mouth that opens at the front; top jaw wide, partly concealed when mouth is closed, scaleless; teeth small, no canines, usually present on center and sides of roof of mouth; preopercle edge serrated; membraneous ventral preopercular flap extends beyond rear edge of preopercle; 20-22 gill rakers, 14 (12 - 15) lower rakers; dorsal fin VI +I, 9; anal fin II, 8; pectoral fin rays 11-12 (rarely 13); inner pelvic ray connected to body along most or all of its length; tail usually concave; body scales rough; a row of scales on centerline before dorsal fin; 23-45 pored lateral line scales; lateral line complete, extends onto base of tail fin.

Silvery, with bronze tones; snout yellowish; body covered with indistinct dark speckles of varying sizes, multiple speckles per scale, large in center of scale; faint (sometimes absent), narrow dark stripes along bases of dorsal and anal fins, no pale stripe between those and fin base; tail base with a vertical oval dark blotch.

Reaches 7.5 cm.

Lives on reefs; usually found in tubular sponges.

Depth range: 0-60 m.

The Gulf of Mexico to the S Caribbean.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom + water column
  • Mid Water
  • Near Bottom
  • Reef only
  • Rocks
  • Sponges
  • Water column
  • Corals
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Data
  • Planktivore
  • Data
  • Zooplankton
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
  • 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
  • 7.5
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 60