Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Symphurus varius, Freckled tonguefish, Mottled tonguefish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

pupils without covers
D & A: dark blotches; ray bases on blind side with dark dots
not dark around gut and under operculum
C dark base
D 90-97; A 77-81; 12

Symphurus varius Garman, 1899

Mottled tonguefish, Freckled tonguefish

Body highly compressed, elongate, oval, tapers to pointed tail; eyes small close-set, on left side, pupils without covers; snout rounded; mouth small, curved, strongly so on blind side; margin of preoperculum concealed by skin and scales; dorsal origin ~ above upper eye; dorsal rays 90-97; anal rays 77-81;  dorsal and anal fins confluent with the pointed tail fin; only left pelvic fin present, 4 rays, on body midline, joined to anal fin by delicate membrane; pectoral fins absent, represented by a fine membrane; tail with 12 rays; no lateral line; scales rough, on both sides of body; scales in longitudinal series 120-124.

Top side yellowish to pale brown; series of dark blotches scattered over body; front half of body with dark dot at base of each dorsal and anal fin ray; rear 2/3 of dorsal and all anal with dark blotches on fin bases; tail base dark, outer part clear; blind side with scattered dots, most concentrated along dorsal and anal bases; usually no dark blotch behind opercle.

Size: 12 cm.

Habitat: rubble and shell bottoms.

Depth: 20-280 m.

Western Panama; Cocos, Malpelo and the Galapagos.

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  • Marine Only
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Mud
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom only
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • No Data
  • Carnivore
  • Mobile benthic worms
  • No Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
Egg Type
  • Pelagic larva
  • No data
  • Pelagic
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • East Pacific endemic
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • TEP endemic
  • Continent
  • 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
  • 12
Depth Range Min
  • 20
Depth Range Max
  • 280