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Species: Leptophilypnus fluviatilis, Freshwater Sleeper

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eyes above
head scaleless
opercle blue spot, belly 3 dark bars
lower jaw bones meet under rear mouth
body scales rough, laterals 28-36

Leptophilypnus fluviatilis Meek & Hildebrand, 1916

Freshwater Sleeper

Elongate, body not much deeper than wide at front, compressed at rear; eyes near top of head, distance between them about equal to eye diameter; mouth large, oblique, and lower jaw prominently projecting; bones of lower jaw broad, meeting under rear edge of mouth, leaving an oval, naked area on chin; teeth small, pointed, in bands, none on center of roof of mouth; no preopercular spine; gill opening extending forward nearly to vertical from rear margin of eye; 6-7 short lower gill rakers, not overlapping when depressed; gill membranes broadly joined to throat, with 6 rays; dorsal fin VI + I, 9, base of 2nd dorsal < distance from the end of that base to tail fin; anal fin with I spine; pectoral 18-19; branched tail rays 11(11-12); pelvic fins I, 5, long, completely and widely separate; head, nape, and breast without scales; scales on trunk rough; 28-34 scales in lateral series; no lateral line.

Body pale tan with 4-5 prominent horizontal oval dark blotches on sides from pectoral fin to tail base, the last one largest and round; belly with 3 dark bars under the front three flank blotches; back with 4 dark saddles; nape and head mottled; a bar under eye, oblique stripe from eye to upper jaw connecting with stripe on other side, oblique stripe from rear of eye to preopercle; a blue spot on the lower 1/3 of the opercle; 1st dorsal fin with stripe above base and another along its edge, 2nd dorsal with several stripes; anal fin dusky in males, no pigment in females; pectoral base with spots on top and bottom; pelvic fins unpigmented in females and young males; tail fin with 4-5 narrow dark bars; adult males with more intense body and fin colors, the anal fin reddish with a blackish border; the pelvics dark grey.

Reaches 7 cm.

Habitat: freshwater and estuaries.

Depth: 0-5 m.

Distribution: Panama to Guatemala; has passed through the Panama Canal and been collected in the lower Pacific-side locks.

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  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Non Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Estuary
  • Freshwater
  • Mud
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Data
  • Planktivore
  • Data
  • Zooplankton
Egg Type
  • Benthic
  • Data
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Caribbean endemic
  • Continent
  • Continent only
  • GC endemic
  • 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
  • 7
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 5