A Photographic GUIDE to the Late-Stage LARVAE of CORAL REEF FISHES
Under construction with daily additions, corrections, and refinements/May 2006
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The true blennies are unscaled, blunt-nosed members of the blennioids, and are often called combtooth blennies because of their herbivorous dentation. Most blennids are not reef-associated and typically are found along rocky shores, mostly in more temperate parts of the region. The exception is the large redlip blenny, Ophioblennius sp., which is abundant on coral reefs.
Larval blenniids can be recognized by their blunted snout, long and continuous dorsal and anal fins with flexible spines, a somewhat short and narrow caudal peduncle, long strand-like pelvic fins (usually straight, not curled up over the body), and relatively heavy markings (primarily a row of melanophores along the anal fin base, along with dense markings on the pectoral fins and the top of the head). Many larvae have a prominent preopercular spine that disappears at transition (although smaller spines usually remain on the preopercle). Larval blenniids usually have large round eyes, in contrast to larval scarids, labrids, and gobiids in which the eye is often smaller or narrowed.
Blenniids can be separated from labrisomids, tripterygiids and all chaenopsids (other than the very recognizable Chaenopsis spp.) by having fewer dorsal fin spines than rays and from dactyloscopids by having a blunt snout and straight, not curled, pelvic fins.
Diagnosis: A fin ray count of D-XII-XIII,21-23 A-II,24 indicates Ophioblennius atlanticus. Ophioblennius macclurei reportedly has D-XII,19-21 A-II,20-21 (but Williams in the FAO book does not recognize O. atlanticus, considers all O. macclurei ).
Diagnosis: A fin ray count of D-XII,11 A-II,13 indicates Hypsoblennius invemar. This species is the only Caribbean member of the family with as few as 11-12 dorsal fin soft rays. The other three Caribbean Hypsoblennius spp. have 14-16 dorsal fin soft rays: Hypsoblennius hentz (continental coast US to Yucatan), H. ionthus from US waters (Florida and northern Gulf of Mexico), and H. exstochilus from the islands of the northern Caribbean). H. brevipinnis from the Pacific has invaded through the Panama Canal, and can overlap this fin ray count and thus cannot be excluded. (U)
Description: Body thick and long with a large eye, blunted profile, and subterminal, relatively small mouth. Pectoral fins long, reaching past the vent, pelvic fins short. Dorsal and anal fin bases long, caudal peduncle short and narrow. A large patch of variably-sized melanophores on the dorsal surface of the head, one midline above the tip of the upper jaw, and two along the margin of the preopercle. There is a large melanophore on the inner ray of the pelvic fin and a row of five large melanophores along the longest lower pectoral fin ray. Along the ventral midline there is a melanophore at the mid-abdomen and then a row along the anal fin base continuing onto the caudal peduncle ending at the start of the accessory caudal fin rays. There are several melanophores at the base of the segmented caudal fin rays and one or two on the dorsal midline of the caudal peduncle. Diffuse internal melanophores line the abdominal peritoneum.
Hypsoblennius invemar larva, 11.4 mm SL (San Blas, Panama, SB86-422)
Diagnosis: A modal fin ray count of D-XII,13 A-II,15 pect 14 indicates Hypleurochilus spp. and L. vinctus? There are six regional species in this genus (Williams FAO book), but only two are widespread in the Caribbean. H. springeri sometimes has 12 dorsal fin soft rays while H. pseudoaequipinnus often has 14 dorsal fin soft rays and 16 anal fin soft rays (Caribbean H. aequipinnus is included in H. pseudoaequipinnus). H. bermudensis also shares the modal fin ray count but is found in Bermuda, Bahamas and Florida only. H. geminatus has 14-15 dorsal fin soft rays and 18 anal fin soft rays and found in Florida and north. The remaining two Caribbean species are limited to US waters: H. multifilis in the northern Gulf of Mexico only and H. caudovittatus in Florida.
Hypleurochilus springeri D-XII,13 (rare 12) A-II,15, (rare 14 or 16)(Randall,foc, 13 in B&C, 14-15 fb) H. pseudoaequipinnus D-XII,13-14 A-II,15-16 foc (14-16 ross) pect 14 (aequipinnus D-XII,13 and 14 A-II,15 and 16 (rare 14) pect. 14 (Randall,fb) d-XII,14 II,16 (bc)) bermudensis D-XII,13 (rare 12) A-II,15 (rare 14)pect 14 (rare 13) Randall (anal 14 hoese?) (bermuda,bahamas,fla only?)geminatus- D-XII,14-15 II,18
Chasmodes bosquianus (Fl north) longimaxilla (northern GOM) saburrae (NGOM) all pect12 D-XI
Lupinoblennius nicholsi (N. gulf only)
vinctus (=dispar) D-XII,12-14 (total 25-27) A-II-14-15 pect 13
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