Friday, August 13, 2010

August 13, 2010 : Jawfish


Opistognathidae (opisto = "behind", gnath = "mouth"), commonly referred to as jawfishes, are classified within Order Perciformes, Suborder Percoidei. They are found throughout shallow reef areas of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Physically similar to blennies, jawfish are generally smaller-sized fish with an elongated body plan. Their heads, mouths, and eyes are large in size relative to the rest of their bodies. Jawfish possess a single, long dorsal fin with 9-12 spines and a caudal fin that can be either rounded or pointed.

Jawfish typically reside in burrows that they construct in sandy substrate. They will stuff their mouth with sand and spit it out elsewhere, slowly creating a tunnel. Utilizing the protection of these burrows, these fish will hover feeding on plankton or other small organisms, ready to dart back in at the first sign of danger. They are territorial of the area around their burrows.

Jawfish are mouthbrooders meaning that their eggs hatch in their mouths, where the new-born fry are able to be protected from predators.

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