Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Xenocephalus egregius, Freckled Stargazer

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top head - bones exposed
juv: blackish, fins pale + dark base, LL pale
chin - bony converging ridges
behind operculum: 1 blunt, flat spine
back brown + many small spots; fin bases dark

Xenocephalus egregius (Jordan & Thompson, 1905)

Freckled Stargazer

Body short, thick, tapering to rear; head square, top covered with exposed bones, a shallow depression in the bones before extending to between the eyes; mouth large, vertical, without skin flaps; chin with a pair of converging bony ridges separated by a deep groove; eye large, on top of head; front nostrils tubular, with a stout tentacle at the rear margin; rear nostril a pore before center of eye; preopercle edge membranous, without spines, with a long, flattened wing-like appendage on lower corner, that appendage smaller in larger fish; operculum ridged, spine behind upper corner prominent, flat, blunt and curved up; dorsal fin without spines, 12-14 rays; anal fin 0, 16-17 rays; pectoral 12-14 rays; pelvic I, 5; body with imbedded scales; lateral lines on each side from head along back, bending down on tail base and ending near center of base of tail fin.

Large fish: upper half of body dark grey to brown, with numerous small dark spots, coalescing in some areas to form short lines; inner ¾ of fins dark brown (tail fin black), with clear margins. Small fish: blackish; fins pale, with a blackish area on base of each; a pale streak along lateral line and one along dorsal fin base. Intermediate sized fish: head and body with mixture of spots and lines.

Reaches 33 cm.

Lives on soft bottoms.

Depth range: 20-1066 m; rarely above 100 m, adults >200 m, juveniles shallower.

Georgia to Colombia.

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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
  • Mud
FishBase Habitat
  • Bathydemersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • 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
  • 33
Depth Range Min
  • 20
Depth Range Max
  • 1066