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Description: Body thin, long, and narrow with a large eye and a terminal mouth. Pectoral fins short, pelvic fins stubs until transition, dorsal and anal-fin bases very long, caudal peduncle very short and narrow, 7-9 procurrent caudal-fin rays (7-8 spindly). Lightly marked along the lower body: melanophores usually in long streaks at the posterior isthmus, at the pelvic-fin insertion and then continuing as an abdominal midline streak ending about half way between the pelvic-fin insertion and the swim bladder (vs. eleotrids where it extends to the swim bladder). There is a row of melanophores along the anal-fin base (variably paired, one per side, a few larger ones starting at the second or third element that are fewer than one per ray, then becoming small and usually one per ray), and then a streak along the ventral midline of the very short caudal peduncle ending at the start of the procurrent caudal-fin rays. Melanophores are present on some of the anal-fin ray membranes, usually between the first six elements near the base of the ray (the frequency of occurrence of the anal-fin ray membrane melanophores is uncertain since many larvae have frayed fin rays). Melanophores are present at the base of most of the lower segmented caudal-fin rays extending a short way out along the rays; in larger individuals there are melanophores at the base of the central and some of the upper segmented caudal-fin rays as well. Some larger larvae have melanophores at the angle of the jaw and around the sacculus, but on many larvae these are absent. Internal melanophores are present at the dorsal surface of the swim bladder and often around the gut near the vent. Size series of larvae show variable eye shapes: at around 6 mm SL the eye is round with dorsal and ventral indentations in the iris and a posterior-inferior exension of the iris, then between 7 and 11 mm SL the eye is a somewhat-narrowed vertical oval, often tilting slightly forward, with a prominent posterior-inferior extension of the iris. At transitional sizes (11-15 mm SL), larvae develop large round eyes. Many larvae have a speckled "eyebrow" membrane over the upper third of the eyeball that appears detached from the pigmented iris below. Transitional larvae develop internal melanophores within the caudal peduncle and the pelvic fins extend in length rapidly. A melanophore appears behind the upper edge of the operculum above a streak of iridophores. Transitional recruits develop a stripe from the eye to the caudal peduncle and speckling along the bases of the median-fin rays and a row of melanophores along the lateral wall of the abdomen below the pectoral fin.


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© by Benjamin Victor


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