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Species: Symphurus pelicanus, Longtail Tonguefish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

eye side plain; blind side - dense dark dots
gut cavity dark
D 77-85; A 64-70; C 12
no pupil cover
lateral scales 62-70

Symphurus pelicanus Ginsburg, 1951

Longtail Tonguefish

Body highly compressed, elongate, oval, tapers to pointed tail, slender, widest at middle; head long and wide, snout long and pointed; small close-set eyes on left side; lower eye larger; no cover for pupils; snout rounded; mouth small, curved, strongly so on blind side, extends to below front edge of lower eye; lower jaw without fleshy crest on eye-side; teeth along entire length of lower eyeside jaw, front ¾ of upper jaw; preopercle edge covered with skin; dorsal fin origin ~ above upper eye, 75-85 rays, its origin behind or over rear edge of top eye; anal fin 64-70 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 fin usually 12 rays; scales rough, on both sides of body; 62-70 lateral scales; eyes with 3-4 rows of small rough scales on front half; no lateral line.

Top side uniform pale brown to yellowish; sometimes faint crossbars; blind side white, heavily dusted with dark dots, particularly at bases of fin rays; peritoneum black; median fins as body, although tail sometimes with poorly defined spot at its base.

Size: 9 cm.

Habitat: silt and soft mud bottoms.

Depth: 24-530 m.

The Gulf of Mexico to Guyana.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Mud
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
  • Extends South of GC
  • 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
  • 9
Depth Range Min
  • 24
Depth Range Max
  • 530