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Species: Symphurus urospilus, Spottail Tonguefish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

4-11 strong, complete bars, black scale edges
C - black & white ocellus
gut cavity pale
D 82-90; A 64-74; C 11
lower jaw - fleshy ridge
with pupil cover
lateral scales 67-82

Symphurus urospilus Ginsburg, 1951

Spottail Tonguefish

Body highly compressed, elongate, oval, tapers to pointed tail; body very deep; head moderately long and wide, much shorter than wide; snout rounded; eyes small, close-set, on left side, relatively large; a well developed cover for pupils; mouth small, curved, strongly so on blind side; lower jaw with a distinct fleshy crest on eye-side; eye-side upper jaw usually without teeth; preopercle edge covered with skin; dorsal fin 82-90 rays, its origin behind or over rear edge of top eye; anal fin 64-74 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 11 rays; scales rough, on both sides of body; 67-82 lateral scales; eyes with 3-4 rows of small rough scales on front half; no lateral line.

Top side dark brown, with black scale edges and 4-11 (usually 6-10) well developed, complete, sharply contrasting crossbars; blind side creamy white, without dark dots; lining of gut cavity unpigmented; dorsal and anal fins uniformly dark brown; outer 1/2 of tail fin with a well developed ocellated round black spot.

Size: 18 cm.

Habitat: on live bottom habitats; not in estuaries.

Depth: 5-324 m, but rare below 40 m.

N Carolina to the N Caribbean.

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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
  • Submerged vegetation
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
  • Reef Associated
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
  • 18
Depth Range Min
  • 5
Depth Range Max
  • 324