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Species: Opistognathus punctatus, Fine-spotted jawfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

head - dark dots
body - dark spots & blotches
juveniles: black spot/ocellus on D
lips: no inner papillae
male: black Vs inside lower jaw
gill rakers: 41-49

Opistognathus punctatus Peters, 1869

Finespotted Jawfish

Elongate, compressed, tapering body; large bulbous head; eye large, high; a simple cirrus at front nostril; top jaw nearly as long as head in large males; no broad flap at top corner of operculum; front of roof of mouth with 2 teeth; lips without inner papillae; gill rakers 41-49; dorsal rays XI, 16-17; anal rays III, 16-17; pectoral 20-21; tail rounded, much shorter than head; lateral line on front half of body only, high; scales small, smooth, none on head, body with 128-150 oblique scale rows.

Light grey or brownish with numerous fine dark spots on head and body, also larger blackish spots and blotches on side and fins; juveniles have fewer larger spots than adult and become increasingly more spotted with growth; pectorals of juveniles clear, becoming increasingly spotted with growth; juveniles under about 15 cm with an elongate black spot on middle of dorsal fin between 4th and 8th spines, this spot an ocellus in very small individuals; inside lower jaw of male with two black V shaped marks.

Maximum size to 40.6 cm.

Inhabits sand-rubble bottoms.

Depth: 5-24 m.

Southern Baja and the Gulf of California to Gorgona Island, Colombia, and Malpelo.

The juvenile of this species was described as O. mexicanus by Allen and Robertson (1991).

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Sand & gravel
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • No Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • No Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
Egg Type
  • Brooded
  • Pelagic larva
  • No data
Global Endemism
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) endemic
  • East Pacific endemic
  • All species
Regional Endemism
  • Island (s)
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • All species
  • TEP endemic
  • Continent
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
  • North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California)
  • Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
  • Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Least concern
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 40.6
Depth Range Min
  • 5
Depth Range Max
  • 24