Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Stellifer zestocarus, Bigeye stardrum, Softhead stardrum

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

head spongy; eye large
very short snout; mouth opens at front
C: long point
preopercle: 1 strong spine
29-30 gill rakers

Stellifer zestocarus Gilbert in Jordan & Evermann, 1898

Softhead stardrum, Bigeye stardrum

Body oblong, deep, compressed; head compressed; skull strongly cavernous, translucent, spongy to touch; eye very large, 3.3-3.4 in head length; snout very short, blunt, not projecting beyond upper jaw; mouth large, opens at front, oblique; teeth in villiform bands, those in outer row of upper jaw enlarged; chin with 4 pores, central pair separated by a crest, no barbells; snout with 8 pores; margin of preopercle weakly serrated, 1 strong spine at angle; gill rakers long and slender, 29-30; dorsal rays IX-X + II-III, 17-20, deep notch between spiny and soft parts of dorsal fin; anal fin with short base II, 10 (rarely 9 or 11), 2nd  spine strong, > 2/3 length of 1st  ray; pectorals long, reach past level of anus; pelvic fins without a filament; tail margin with a long point; scales rough on body, smooth on head, breast, and fins; soft dorsal and anal fins covered with smooth scales; lateral line pores 48-50.

Color silvery or silvery grey; fins greyish to whitish; anal, pelvic and pectoral fins greyish to yellowish; inside mouth pale, edges of lips dark; inner surface of operculum dotted, darker above.

Size: grows to at least 20 cm.

Inhabits coastal waters.

Depth: 1-30 m.

El Salvador to Ecuador.

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  • Marine
  • Brackish
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom only
  • Bottom
  • Estuary
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom only
  • Mud
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Planktivore
  • No Data
  • Pelagic fish larvae
  • Zooplankton
  • Bony fishes
  • Pelagic fish eggs
  • Data
Egg Type
  • Pelagic
  • No data
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • East Pacific endemic
  • All species
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent only
  • TEP endemic
  • Panamic province endemic
  • Continent
  • Continental TEP endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Least concern
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 20
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 30