Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Opistognathus galapagensis, Galapagos jawfish

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front nostril - branched cirrus
6 brown bars + flank stripe
D: large elongate black & white blotch at front
inside mouth - plain

Opistognathus galapagensis Allen & Robertson, 1991

Galapagos jawfish

Elongate, compressed, tapering body; large bulbous head; eye large, high; a multi-branched cirrus at front nostril; mouth terminal, large, extends well to rear of eye, rear end of top jawbone straight, no extension in male; upper jaw 71.1-80.0% of head length; 1-2 teeth at front of roof of mouth; lips without inner papillae; a broad flap under opercle; gill rakers 30-37; dorsal rays XI, 15-17; anal rays III, 15-17; pectoral rays 21; tail rounded, much shorter than head;  lateral line on front half of body only, high; scales small, smooth, none on head, body with 106-109 oblique scale rows.

Whitish or pale tan; no obvious color inside mouth; body with six irregular brown bars, the middle portion of bars somewhat expanded and may coalese to form a longitudinal stripe; six large brown blotches, corresponding with each bar, on back and extending on to dorsal fin; a prominent large black spot on distal part of first three dorsal spines and a nearly equal sized white patch immediately below; soft dorsal, anal and tail fins yellowish, with rows of small white spots .

Size: reaches at least 16 cm.

Inhabits sand-rubble areas.

Depth: 5-15 m.

Galapagos Islands and continental Costa Rica.

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  • Marine Only
  • Marine
  • Inshore Only
  • Inshore
Water Column Position
  • Bottom only
  • Bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • No Data
  • No Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Bony fishes
Egg Type
  • Pelagic larva
  • No data
  • Brooded
Global Endemism
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) endemic
  • East Pacific endemic
  • All species
Regional Endemism
  • All species
  • Continent
  • Island (s)
  • TEP endemic
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Least concern
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 16
Depth Range Min
  • 5
Depth Range Max
  • 15