Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Family: OPHIDIIDAE, Cuskeels

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

front nostrils well above lip
D higher than A
D, A & C continuous
pelvics: bases close, 1-2 threads under throat



Cuskeels, which range from 10-100 cm, have an elongate, more or less eel-like, tapering body; front nostril halfway between top lip and rear nostril; operculum with a spine; long-based dorsal and anal fins continuous with the tail fin; dorsal fin origin before anal fin origin, dorsal fin rays usually longer than anal fin rays; pelvic fins absent or consist of one or two slender filamentous rays, fins close together and situated under the throat; some species have barbels around the mouth; scales present.

Unlike the similar-appearing brotulas (Family Bythitidae), cuskeels are egg layers, and males therefore lack specialized copulatory organs. These reef-dwelling fishes are rarely seen because of their cryptic habits. They hide in caves and crevices during the day and emerge from cover at night to feed on crustaceans and fishes

The family occurs worldwide in both shallow and deep seas. It contains about 49 genera and 237 species. Twenty four species in nine genera occur in our region.