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Family: ANOMALOPIDAE, Flashlight-Fishes

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prominent light organ under eye





Anomalopids are distinguished by having a light organ beneath the eye that has a rotational shutter mechanism that allows its light emission to be controlled, this organ is composed of a series of tubes that contain luminous bacteria; head moderate, with sensory canals on top separated by broad ridges and covered by skin; snout short and blunt; eye large, wider than snout length; mouth oblique, moderate size; teeth small and conical; dorsal fin with II-VI spines, 14-19 rays, continuous or with a deep notch; anal fin II-III, 10-13; tail fin deeply forked; scales small, strongly spiny; a row of scutes (spiny scales) along the center of the belly; some genera with large scales along lateral line and bases of dorsal and anal fins; black.

Flashlight fishes are small, mostly under 10 cm, although Anomalops from the Indo-West Pacific may reach 30 cm. They are nocturnally active, emerging from shelter at dusk to feed. During night forays the fishes turn on the lights below their eyes intermittently, presumably to attract photo- positive planktonic food and to also establish and maintain contact with conspecifics. Daytime retreats include deep crevices and caves.

This small family from the Indo-Pacific and W Atlantic contains six genera and 9 species. One endemic genus and species occurs in our area.