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

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Larval Fish: Miscellaneous Families


The following species represent a variety of unrelated families. They illustrate the diversity of the larval fishes collected at Carrie Bow Cay.

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Anchoa, USNM 353888

Anchoa sp. (Engraulidae), 22 mm SL, USNM 353888. Engraulid larvae do not have discrete chromatophores, but they do have a delicate reddish wash on the gut, which is especially noticeable on the striated part.


Belonidae, 7 mm SL. Belonid larvae are rather heavily pigmented with a greenish-yellow background overlain by conspicuous discrete melanophores. They go through a "halfbeak" stage, as the lower jaw grows out before the upper jaw does. In this specimen, the lower jaw is just beginning to elongate.

Atherinidae, USNM 353871

Atherinidae, 14 mm SL, USNM 353871. Some diffuse greenish-yellow pigment is apparent internally, mainly along the vertebral column and on the head. The vertebral column is heavily pigmented internally with black, especially on the posterior part. The viscera are enclosed by a reflective metallic blue layer.

Antennarius, USNM 354559

Antennarius sp. (Antennariidae), 6 mm SL, reared, USNM 354559. This specimen was reared through transformation and now shows the cryptic coloration that conceals it when it sits on the bottom.

Parophidion schmidti, USNM 351301 Parophidion schmidti, USNM 351301

Parophidion schmidti (Ophidiidae), 37 mm SL, USNM 351301. Ophidioid larvae grow quite large before transforming. Melanophores are distributed on the head, along the vertebral column, and along the ventral margin of the body. Small erythrophores are found around the vertebrae and the gut.

Myrichthys Myrichthys

Myrichthys (Ophichthidae). Larvae of several species of eels are commonly captured in the moored plankton net at Carrie Bow Cay. Myrichthys larvae are among the largest and most conspicuously pigmented; they reach approximately 110 mm TL before metamorphosing. The photos show the whole specimen, the head, and the midbody around the end of the gut.

Scorpaena, USNM 353298

Scorpaena sp. (Scorpaenidae), 8 mm SL, USNM 353298. Yellow pigment is concentrated in the pectoral fin and around the anterior portion of the vertebral column. Erythrophores are present on the head, at the base of the dorsal and anal fin, and above the pectoral fin. In preserved specimens only the heavy concentration of melanophores on the pectoral fin remains. The presence of 12 dorsal spines indicate that this specimen is a Scorpaena, but we are unable to distinguish the various species as larvae.

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