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Species: Symphurus tessellatus, Tessellated Tonguefish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

5-9 strong, bars; rear D & A dark; C blackish
gut cavity pale
D 91-102; A 74-86; C 12
top & inside opercle - dark
no pupil cover
lateral scales 81-96
blind side rear D & A rays - 4-8 rough scales

Symphurus tessellatus (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824)

Tessellated Tonguefish

Body highly compressed, elongate, oval, tapers to pointed tail, relatively elongate; head wide, its length < width; snout long and pointed; small close-set eyes on left side; lower eye larger and its center behind that of upper eye; no cover for pupils; snout rounded; mouth small, curved, strongly so on blind side, reaches to under rear edge of pupil of lower eye; eye side lower jaw without fleshy crest; preopercle edge covered with skin; dorsal fin 91-102 rays, its origin behind or over rear edge of top eye; anal fin 74-86 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; 81-96 lateral scales; eyes without scales on front half; rear rays of dorsal and anal with 4-8 rough scales on blind-side; no lateral line.

Top side brown, 5-9 well developed, sharply contrasting, relatively wide dark crossbars on head and body; outer side of operculum on eye side usually with a dark blotch; inside gill cover very dark on both sides; lining of gut cavity not pigmented; dorsal and anal fins become increasingly darker to rear of body (black in mature males), without dark spots or blotches; tail fin uniformly dark to black.

Size: 23 cm.

Habitat: soft silt and muddy sand; absent from upwelling areas.

Depth: 1-86 m.

Cuba to Uruguay.

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  • Marine
  • Brackish
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Estuary
  • Mud
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic worms
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Continental primarily
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 23
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 86