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Family: BYTHITIDAE, Brotulas

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

front nostril just above lip
D higher than A
C joined with D & A
pelvics: absent or 1-2 rayed threads under operculum
usually scaled



Brotulas are long slender fishes of small to medium size (5-100 cm); snout blunt, often overhanging mouth; eyes small, sometimes vestigial; front nostril immediately above the top lip; teeth on center of roof of mouth, and present or absent on sides; no central tooth patch at bottom of gill arches; a strong opercular spine; with 0-35 elongate gill rakers; no fin spines; dorsal fin long, 47-192 rays that are longer than anal fin rays; anal fin 31-137; pelvic fin absent or with 1 ray, fin is a filament inserted under the rear part of the operculum; pectoral on lower half of side, 9-32 rays; tail fin usually fused to dorsal and anal fins, rarely not; scales small, smooth, almost always present, may be embedded, on body and usually head; brotulas are live bearers and males have an intromittant sex organ that lacks bony pseudoclaspers, and is more or less merged into a fleshy hood in front of the anal fin origin, not in a cavity that is covered by that hood.

This circumtropical family contains about 130 species from 38 genera, including some from fresh and brackish waters and others from deep sea habitats. The reef species live deep in cracks and crevices. Brotulas are never seen unless flushed out with chemical fish poisons (used by scientific collectors). Sixteen species in four genera occur in our region, all of them endemics.