Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Herpetoichthys fossatus, Moustached snake-eel, Mustachioed snake-eel

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

snout blunt
eye large
2 rows large spots along back
head densely spotted
D: low, origin behind pectoral
tail: < 1/2 TL, no C
mouth long, opens at front
conspicuous barbel behind front nostril
pectoral minute, above gill opening

Herpetoichthys fossatus (Myers & Wade, 1941)

Mustachioed Snake Eel, Moustached Snake-eel

Elongate, cylindrical; tail a little shorter than head and trunk; snout blunt, grooved just behind front and rear nostrils; front nostril tubular, with long dangling barbel behind; rear nostril a slit below eye; eye large; mouth opens at front, long, both jaws of equal length; teeth pointed, in 2 rows on upper jaw, 1 on lower jaw, 2 large canines at front of top jaw; gill openings vertical, curved, at sides; pectoral fins very small, behind upper edge of gill opening; dorsal fin low, origin at tip or or behind pectoral fin; anal fin low; tip of tail finless.

Yellowish; row of large (paired) dark spots along top of back under dorsal fin; small, densely packed spots all over head, throat and nape; midline of side reddish-brown for entire length, or with a line of spots; lower body with either dark brown bars from midflank to ventral surface along body and tail, or a row large dark spots; dorsal fin may be unmarked or with elongate dark spots; anal and pectoral fins pale.

Size: 55 cm.

Habitat: sand bottoms.

Depth: 5-40 m.

The SW Gulf of California, Lobos Afuera Island (Peru); the Galapagos and Cocos.

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  • Marine Only
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom only
  • Bottom
  • Soft bottom only
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • No Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • No Data
Egg Type
  • Pelagic larva
  • No data
  • Pelagic
Global Endemism
  • East Pacific endemic
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) endemic
  • All species
Regional Endemism
  • TEP endemic
  • All species
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Island (s)
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos)
  • Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
  • South Temperate (Peruvian Province )
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 55
Depth Range Min
  • 5
Depth Range Max
  • 40