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Species: Gymnothorax phalarus, Small-spotted moray

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brown + white spots
tail spots < eye, round
tail slender

Gymnothorax phalarus Bussing, 1998

Small-spotted moray

A moderately deep-bodied species; front nostril tubular, near tip of snout; rear nostril with slightly raised rim, at upper front edge of eye; 4 conspicuous pores below eye, 3 smaller ones above; jaws equal length, or lower slightly longer; teeth sharp & slender, with strong serrations on rear edge, in single row on each jaw, usually 1 fang in middle of front of top of mouth; gill opening an oblique slit, at or slightly above midline; tail about ½ TL, gradually tapering, compressed at rear, but not very slender.
Medium to dark brown, becoming darker at rear; body and tail overlaid by white dots that become larger at the rear; spots on tail are round and smaller than eye; eyes rimmed with dark, head pores ringed with dark; dorsal fin white spotted, anal dark, with few or no spots; white spots may extend onto snout in juveniles.
Size: reaches 93 cm.
Habitat: benthic on soft bottoms.
Depth: at 23-339 m.
The mouth of the Gulf of California to Peru.
Note: G. equatorialis is similar, but has 3 pores below the eye, a narrower tail, and the spots at the rear of the tail are elongate and much larger than the eye.

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  • Marine Only
  • Marine
  • Inshore Only
  • Inshore
Water Column Position
  • Bottom only
  • Bottom
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Mud
  • Sand & gravel
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • No Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Bony fishes
  • No Data
Egg Type
  • No data
  • Pelagic larva
  • Pelagic
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • East Pacific endemic
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent only
  • All species
  • Continental TEP endemic
  • 3 provinces (Cortez + Mexican + Panamic) endemic
  • TEP endemic
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos)
  • Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 93
Depth Range Min
  • 23
Depth Range Max
  • 339