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Species: Dactyloscopus tridigitatus, Sand Stargazer

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eyestalk long & slender
D XI-XIII, first 3-4 spines free
mottled with tan, red on head, side 11-14 brown bars, pectoral white, C bars
rear nostril a pore next to tubular front nostril

Dactyloscopus tridigitatus Gill, 1859

Sand Stargazer

Body compressed, tapering to tail; head large, flattened above, rounded and narrow at front; rear nostril a single pore next to base of tubular front nostril; eyes on top of head, small, with long slender stalks, stalks >eye diameter; mouth upturned, with a protruding lower jaw, top jaw reaching past eye, tip of lower jaw pointed when viewed from above; both lips with skin flaps, usually 13-17 on top lip; operculum with 10-16 skin flaps; canal pores on preoperculum 4-11; dorsal fin origin on nape, before level of upper corner of operculum, fin usually discontinuous, XI-XII (X-XIII), 1st 3-4 spines separate and free, 28 (26-31) rays; segmented anal rays II, 32 (30-34); pelvic fins inserted under throat, each with I, 3, rays thickened and free at the tips; a distinct notch under lower edge of tail fin base; lateral line continuous, bends down under last dorsal spine; scales large, smooth, head and belly scaleless; 45-46 (43-47) pored scales; 2-3 rows of scales between lateral line and 1st two dorsal spines, 1.5-2 rows under rest of spines.

Tan to pale, body blotched and mottled with tan and white marks; salmon streaks behind eye, salmon on top of head and chin, and along midline of body; body sometimes with 11-14 brown bars between nape and tail base; pectoral white; tail may have several faint brown bars.

Reaches 8.5 cm.

Lives in sand bottoms, often in surge zone.

Depth range: 0-29 m, usually < 2.5 m.

Bermuda 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
  • Beach
  • 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 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
  • 8.5
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 29