Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Cephalopholis colonus, Pacific creolefish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

elongate, fusiform
both front profiles convex
green-brown + 5 white spots, reddish fins
juvs: yellow or grey + 5 dark spots
C: very concave

Cephalopholis colonus (Valenciennes, 1846)

Pacific creolefish

Body elongate, fusiform; head small, both profiles convex; rakers on first gill arch 37-44; dorsal rays IX, 19-21; anal rays III, 9-11; pectoral rays 19- 23; tail fin strongly concave.

Young often bright yellow, sometimes grey, with a row of five small dark spots on back; adults greenish brown dorsally, reddish below with five white or blue-white spots on back; fins reddish.

Size: to 36 cm.

Habitat: forms large midwater schools above rocky reefs while feeding on plankton.

Depth: 0-120 m.

Baja to the central Gulf of California to Peru, and all the offshore islands.

Note: C. furcifer from the western Atlantic is closely related and very similar in appearance. Previously both were in the genus Paranthias.


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  • Marine Only
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Corals
  • Reef only
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
  • Rocks
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Planktivore
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Zooplankton
  • Data
  • Pelagic crustacea
  • Pelagic fish eggs
  • Bony fishes
Egg Type
  • Pelagic larva
  • Pelagic
  • No data
Global Endemism
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) endemic
  • All species
  • East Pacific endemic
Regional Endemism
  • TEP endemic
  • Continent
  • Island (s)
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos)
  • South Temperate (Peruvian Province )
  • Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
  • North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Least concern
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 36
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 120