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Species: Symphurus civitatum, Offshore Tonguefish

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6-14 narrow cross-bars; fins plain
inside gill cover dark
gut cavity pale
D 86-93; A 70-78; C 12
lower jaw - fleshy ridge
no pupil cover
lateral scales 66-83

Symphurus civitatum Ginsburg, 1951

Offshore Tonguefish

Body highly compressed, elongate, oval, tapers to pointed tail; body relatively deep; head shorter than wide; snout short and blunt; eyes small, close together, lower eye small; no cover over pupils; mouth small, arched (strongly on blind side), at front or a little under snout, reaches under rear of lower eye; eye-side lower jaw with fleshy crest; both jaws on eye side without teeth or with them only on front 1/3; preopercle edge covered with skin; dorsal 86-93 rays, origin over or slightly before top eye; anal 70-78 rays; pectoral fins absent, represented by a fine membrane; only left pelvic fin present, 4 rays, on body midline, joined to anal fin by delicate membrane; dorsal and anal fins confluent with the pointed caudal fin; tail 12 rays; scales rough, on both sides; rays of dorsal and anal usually without scales on blind-side (occasionally 1-3 small scales on ray bases); 66-83 lateral scales; no lateral line.

Top side brown, 6-14 narrow well defined crossbars; inner lining of opercle dark, color showing through operculum as dark blotch; blind side off-white, without dark dots; peritoneum unpigmented; dorsal, anal and tail fins without dark spots or blotches.

Size: 16 cm.

Habitat: silted sandy bottoms.

Depth: 1-73 m, usually 11-45 m.

North Carolina to the Gulf of México.

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  • Brackish
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Estuary
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Mobile benthic worms
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Continental primarily
  • GC endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 16
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 73