Larval Fishes from Carrie Bow Cay, Belize - National Museum of Natural History - Division of FishesLarval Fishes Home

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Larval Fish: Family Gobiidae

Gobies are the most abundant of all the larvae collected at Carrie Bow Cay. We include here the Eleotrididae and the genus Ptereleotris, whose affinities are unclear. Microdesmids are treated separately.

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Gobiidae, USNM 351297

Gnatholepis thompsoni, 12 mm SL, USNM 351297. The most characteristic feature of this species is the oblique reddish slash centered midlaterally just behind the dorsal and anal fins. Along the anal-fin base, where many other goby larvae have melanophores, this one has erythrophores instead. Additional red pigment is found laterally near the gas bladder, ventrally between the pelvic fin and the lower jaw, behind the head, at the anus, and distally on the anterior anal-fin ray. The only melanin is found on the distal ends of the anterior element in the first and second dorsal fins. Preserved larvae are nearly devoid of pigment, whereas live and freshly caught individuals are quite colorful.


Gobiidae, USNM ----

Ctenogobius saepepallens, 10 mm SL, specimen missing. Except in the anomalous year of 1997, this was by far the most abundant larva collected in the stationary plankton net at Carrie Bow Cay. Note the compound chromatophore on the caudal peduncle, consisting of a horizontally oriented melanophore and a vertically oriented erythrophore. Additional red pigment occurs behind the head and at the tip of the lower jaw. There is some variation in the number of melanophores along the anal-fin base and along the dorsal-fin base (the illustrated specimen has none here), and we are not sure whether more than one species is represented. The reared specimens have all turned out to be C. saepepallens, and we assume that most if not all of the larvae belong to that species.


Gobiidae, USNM 351295

Bathygobius curacao, 6 mm SL, USNM 351295. This is a small, heavily pigmented larva. Superficial melanophores occur dorsally and ventrally and at the tip of the lower jaw. Additional pigment occurs internally around the vertebrae and over the gut. The only erythrophores are at the base of the caudal fin, but a substantial amount of yellow occurs dorsally, ventrally, and laterally in association with the melanophores. Larvae of the related Bathygobius soporator (not illustrated here) are larger and less densely pigmented.


Gobiidae, USNM 351296

Bathygobius curacao, reared, 18 mm SL, USNM 351296. Captured at about 6 mm SL, this specimen quickly grew to 18 mm.


Gobiidae, USNM 353877

Coryphopterus "A," 8 mm SL, USNM 353877. Note the oblique, internal reddish bars on the middle and posterior part of the body. These are the most distinctive feature of Coryphopterus larvae. Additional red pigment occurs at the base of the caudal fin, anteriorly around the body cavity and behind the head, and in association with the dorsal and ventral melanophores. Note also the distinct gap about a third of the way back in the series of melanophores along the anal-fin base. This is another characteristic feature of Coryphopterus larvae. There are three basic "types" of Coryphopterus larvae, based on pigment. At least some of the type A larvae are C. glaucofraenum, but others may not be.


Gobiidae, USNM 353542

Coryphopterus "B", 7.5 mm SL, USNM 353542. The reddish bars are much more intense in this larva than in type A. They are also more extensive, reaching well above the vertebral centra. There is also a prominent erythrophore at the tip of the lower jaw. The fin-ray counts of this larva do not match those of any of the known species, and we suspect that it may be undescribed.


Gobiidae, USNM ----

Coryphopterus "C", ca. 8 mm SL, specimen missing. The main character here is the series of superficial streaks of red pigment along the lower myosepta on the anterior part of the body. The oblique reddish bars are not very intense and their ventral extensions are quite narrow. Type C larvae represent the hovering species of Coryphopterus, C. personatus and C. hyalinus. The two species differ modally in their fin-ray counts, although there is some overlap. Coryphopterus personatus is more common in shallow water, and most of our specimens probably represent that species, but C. hyalinus may be represented as well.


Gobiidae, USNM 353523

Coryphopterus personatus, 7 mm SL, USNM 353523. This specimen was one of the smallest of a series collected with quinaldine from a school of adults and juveniles on a reef near the island. It retains the row of melanophores along the anal-fin base (including the characteristic gap), but the rest of the color pattern is changing to that of the adult. Note the black area around the anus, typical of the two hovering species.


Gobiidae, USNM 350195

Nes longus, 10.5 mm SL, USNM 350195. The most characteristic feature of this larva is the very large melanophore on the posterior part of the anal-fin base. A second, smaller melanophore is present over the anterior anal-fin base, with an erythrophore associated with it. Another combination red-black spot occurs at the ventral part of the caudal-fin base and below the throat. Additional red pigment is found behind and below the gills and on the lower jaw. The specimen was photographed at a slight angle, and the right eye is visible through the transparent head. Psilotris amblyrhynchus has a similar larva, with a large spot over the posterior anal-fin base, but it lacks the second melanophore over the anterior anal-fin base.


Gobiidae, USNM 351299

Priolepis hipoliti, 11 mm SL, USNM 351299. This larva is distinguished by the broad red area that covers the middle part of the body, intensified at its anterior and posterior ends. The specimen is beginning to acquire its adult color pattern.


Gobiidae, USNM 354571

Eleotris, 13 mm SL, USNM 354571. This is a conspicuously pigmented larva, with intense red pigment along the anal-fin base and the posterior dorsal-fin base, the former associated with large melanophores. Additional red pigment occurs internally around the vertebral column and over the gut. Melanophores also occur midventrally below the gut, on the jaws, behind the head, over the gas bladder, at the anus, at the base of the caudal fin, and on the distal caudal rays. The caudal base also bears a patch of silvery reflective pigment. Eleotris amblyopsis and E. pisonis both occur in Belize; we are unable to distinguish these as larvae.


Gobiidae, USNM 351300

Ptereleotris helenae, 10.8 mm SL, USNM 351300. This specimen was collected at Tobago and photographed after preservation. It has a series of mixed red and black chromatophores along the base of the anal and dorsal fins. Additional red pigment is found at the caudal-fin base and internally around the posterior vertebrae. There is also yellow pigment associated with the melanophores along the dorsal-fin base. The fin-base pigment resembles that of microdesmid larvae; the significance of this is uncertain. Ptereleotris has been placed with the Microdesmidae, but recent work has refuted such a relationship.


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