Opistognathus brasiliensis Smith-Vaniz, 1997

Smith-Vaniz, William F., Tornabene, Luke & Macieira, Raphael M., 2018, Review of Brazilian jawfishes of the genus Opistognathus with descriptions of two new species (Teleostei, Opistognathidae), ZooKeys 794, pp. 95-133: 109-110

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Opistognathus brasiliensis Smith-Vaniz, 1997


Opistognathus brasiliensis Smith-Vaniz, 1997  Figures 12, 13; Tables 1, 2

Opistognathus brasiliensis  Smith-Vaniz, 1997: 1104, fig. 20 (original description; Alcatraces [misspelled Alcatrazes] Island: holotype MZUSP 13257); Carvalho-Filho 1999: 194 (abbreviated description); Menezes 2011: 42 (listed); Mincarone et al. 2017: 207 (listed); Pinheiro et al. 2018, Southwestern Atlantic (SWA) Endemic reef fishes - Annotated Checklist: 28.

Abbreviated description.

A species of Opistognathus  with the following combination of characters: anterior nostril a short tube with simple cirrus on posterior rim; adults with posterior end of maxilla ending as thin, flexible lamina (slightly elongate in mature females and very elongate in males); supramaxilla present; subopercle without a broad, fan-like flap; most of nape without sensory pores; dorsal-fin spines thin, flexible, usually curved distally, and tips without pale, slightly swollen tabs; dorsal fin XI, 16 with all soft rays weakly branched distally; anal fin II, 15-16; body with 59-75 oblique scale rows in longitudinal series; vertebrae 10+18; supraneurals 2; gill rakers 9 –11+23–24=33– 36; spinous dorsal fin with black spot encircled by a very narrow white ring between spines 4-7 and dorsum with 5 or 6 dusky bands that extend onto base of dorsal fin; pelvic fins uniformly dark; underside of upper jaw and adjacent membranes in adults with two elongate dark stripes (males) or one smaller stripe (females) ( Smith-Vaniz 1997, Figure 9c).

Material examined.

5 specimens (107.5-129 mm SL), including the holotype, cited in Smith-Vaniz (1997) plus the following additional material: CIUFES 1459 (1, 64.0), Ilhas das Garças, Vila Velha, Espírito Santo, 20°36'S, 40°22'W, 30 March 2000, J.L. Gasparini.

Distribution, habitat, and natural history.

A Brazilian endemic (Figure 6), known from Espírito Santo to São Paulo State, but absent from oceanic islands. A rare species only known from the type series collected in São Paulo’s coastal waters (trawled in 50-69 m) and two specimens from Guarapari Islands, Espírito Santo. Occurs in depths of 15-69 meters, associated with gravel and sand or silt and sand bottoms, near coral reefs and rocky areas.


In the diagnosis and description of Opistognathus brasiliensis  , Smith-Vaniz (1997) stated, in part, "buccal pigmentation consisting of a dark area widely surrounding esophageal opening …” versus area around esophageal opening pale in O. cuvierii  . This reported distinction is no longer valid because in a recently examined female specimen of Opistognathus brasiliensis  (CIUFES 1459) the area around the esophageal opening is pale. Both species have black areas in front of each pharyngeal tooth patch that are separated by a pale median area.


The conservation status of this species has been assessed by the Ministério do Meio Ambiente/Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (MMA/ICMBio - Brazil), and it was listed as Data Deficient.