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

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Larval Fish: Miscellaneous Perciform Families

These larvae represent several families of Perciformes. We have consolidated them here for convenience.

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Centropomidae, USNM 354562

Centropomidae (snooks) Centropomus, 17 mm SL, USNM 354562. Five species of Centropomus occur in the western Caribbean, the large C. undecimalis, a favorite game fish, and four smaller species, C. ensiferus, C. parallelus, C. pectinatus, and C. poeyi. The species are distinguished by scale counts, gill-raker counts, and relative fin lengths, none of which is apparent at this stage; hence, we are unsure which species this specimen represents.

Callionymidea, USNM 353952

Callionymidae (dragonets), Paradiplogrammus bairdi, 6 mm SL, USNM 353952. Larvae of this species are bright red in color. After settling, they assume a complex pattern of banding, marbling, and mottling, which blends in with the background.

Gerreidae, USNM 353889

Gerreidae (mojarras), 14 mm SL, USNM 353889. Except for a few tiny erythrophores near the dorsal margin of the body, gerreids have no color. Gerres cinereus and an undetermined number of species of Eucinostomus occur in Belize. The distinguishing characters are not developed at this size, and the identity of this larva is uncertain.

Grammistidae, USNM 353954

Grammistidae (soapfishes), Rypticus, 8 mm SL, USNM 353954. Preserved specimens are completely colorless, but fresh ones have three red marks, one at the dorsal-fin base, one at the anal-fin base, and one on the caudal peduncle. The distal ends of the pectoral rays are also red.

Serranidae, USNM 352906

Serranidae (sea basses), Serranus, 10 mm SL, USNM 352906. The varied red and black markings make this one of the most attractive larvae. Note the elongate first dorsal spine. Several species of Serranus occur in the area, but we have not yet distinguished them as larvae. Serranus baldwini and S. tigrinus have turned up among the reared specimens, but other species may be present as well

Serranidae, USNM 354564

Serranidae, Serranus baldwini, 15 mm SL, reared, USNM 354564.

Pomacentridae, USNM 354570

Serranidae, Serranus tigrinus, 14 mm SL, reared, USNM 354570.


Scombridae (mackerels and tunas), Thunnus atlanticus 5 mm NL, specimen missing. Scombrid larvae were rarely collected in the stationary plankton net; this was the only one photographed. The caudal fin has not yet flexed. Note the yellow pigment around the midsection.

Acanthuridae, USNM ----

Acanthuridae (surgeon fishes), Acanthurus bahianus, 27.5 mm SL (photographed at Navassa Island by J. T. Williams), USNM 359871. Acanthurids have unusually large larvae. This specimen is still transparent, but its body shape is beginning to assume its definitive shape. Younger individuals are more angular. When they were first discovered, acanthurid larvae were thought to represent a distinct genus of fishes and were given the name Acronurus. Although no longer a valid scientific name, "acronurus" continues to be used as a common name for acanthurid larvae in general.

Acathuridae, USNM 346483

Acanthuridae, Acanthurus coeruleus, 26 mm SL, USNM 346483. Photographed at Carrie Bow Cay.

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