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Species: Stephanolepis hispidus, Planehead filefish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

irregularly mottled
snout short, profile straight
male D2 - filamentous ray
D & A 31-34
pelvic flap small

Stephanolepis hispidus (Linnaeus, 1766)

Planehead filefish

Body deep, compressed; a relatively short pointed snout; snout and nape profile nearly straight, at 45º angle; a small mouth that opens at front; teeth moderately strong, six in outer row on top jaws and six in a single row on bottom jaws; gill opening a short slit on side before pectoral base; 2 dorsal fins, 1st with II spines, 1st spine over rear 1/2 of eye,  long, with hooked spines along its rear edge, does not fold down into a deep groove, erectile, can be locked in position by small 2nd spine, second dorsal fin ray elongate in male, 31-34 (29-35); anal fin 31-34 (30-35); pelvic fin rudiment evident as a spine protruding from a group of enlarged scales, those scales flexible dorsoventrally; scales minute, innumerable, skin rough; tail base without spines, its skin the same as that on rest of body; male with patch of bristles on tail base; skin flap between pelvis and anus relatively small.

Color variable, mottled with brown to tan, with irregular bars and blotches of darker and lighter color and irregular small dark spots; bases of dorsal and anal fins dark.

Reaches 18 cm.

Lives in seagrass beds and on sand and mud bottoms; often with floating sargassum.

Depth range: 1-293 m.

E & W Atlantic; Nova Scotia to Brazil.

Note: There is very little genetic difference between S. hispidus and S. setifer. DNA evidence indicates that S. hispidus is a northern species, with its range concentrated on the east coast of the US, extending down to the NE corner of the Yucatan Peninsula. While S. setifer is concentrated in the Caribbean the two species overlap in SE Florida. Hence records of S. hispidus in the Caribbean are suspect.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore Only
  • Inshore
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Submerged vegetation
  • Soft bottom only
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Flotsam
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Mud
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Omnivore
  • Data
  • Corallivore
  • Benthic macroalgae/seagrasses
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Soft corals/hydroids
  • Mobile benthic worms
  • Data
  • Sponges/seasquirts/bryozoa
  • Benthic microalgae
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
Egg Type
  • Pelagic larva
  • Data
  • Benthic
Global Endemism
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • All species.
  • Transatlantic (East+West Atlantic)
Regional Endemism
  • Extends South of GC
  • Also in Brazil
  • GC non-endemic
  • All species..
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Island (s)
  • Continent
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Least concern
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 18
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 293