Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Symphurus pusillus, Northern Tonguefish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

body: 2-6 bars, with ~3-4 obvious
+/- dark line along center mid-body
D 83-88; A 71-75; C 12
gut cavity black
no pupil cover
lateral scales 77-87

Symphurus pusillus (Goode & Bean, 1885)

Northern Tonguefish

Body highly compressed, elongate, oval, tapers to pointed tail; body moderately deep; head ~twice as wide as long; snout a little pointed; eyes small, close together on left side, about equal in position; no cover over pupil; mouth reaches to just behind front of pupil, lower jaw without fleshy crest on eye-side; 1 row of teeth along entire lower jaw of eye-side; teeth on front ¾ of eye-side top jaw; preopercle edge covered with skin; dorsal origin ~ above upper eye, 83-88 rays; anal fin 71-75 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 12 rays; 77-87 lateral scales; no scales on dorsal and anal fin rays on blind side; no lateral line.

Top side yellow-brown body with 2-6 light brown bars, usually only 3-4 obvious; some fish with a dark line along the center of middle of the body; inner lining of operculum un-pigmented; lining of gut cavity black; no dark patch on tail fin; blind side plain white to yellowish.

Size: 8.9 cm.

Habitat: mud bottoms.

Depth: 100-233 m.

New York to the N Gulf of Mexico.

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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
  • Bathydemersal
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 non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent only
  • Extends North of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 8.9
Depth Range Min
  • 100
Depth Range Max
  • 233