Aulostomus maculatus

Common Name

Caribbean Trumpetfish

Year Described

Valenciennes, 1841


Dorsal Fin: XIII-XIII, 20-25
Anal Fin: 20-25
Pelvic Fin: 6
Vertebrae 59-61
Scales: 220-240 longitudinal series

Body extremely elongated and laterally compressed (especially rearward). Snout extremely long and tubular with a small mouth. Teeth in lower jaw but not upper. Nostrils near eye. Chin with a short barbel. Dorsal fin with spines separated into separate finlets. Second dorsal and anal fins equal in size and placed far rearward on body. Pelvic fin small and inserted closer to anal fin than pectoral fin. Pectoral fin small and rounded. Caudal fin small and rounded without a filament. Lateral line present. Rough scales cover most of body but head and upper trunk.


Most commonly reddish-brown to gray, but often orange to bright yellow. Usually has numerous horizontal white lines and spots on the head and body and black spots on the dorsum. Tail with a Y-shaped white mark and a paired black spot at base. Dorsal and anal fin with 1-2 black stripes. Fish can darken and lighten pattern to display vertical white bars or darken to almost unicolorous black or yellow. Juveniles silvery translucent with orange bands.


Maximum size to nearly 100cm TL, but more common to 60cm TL.


Found in a diverse range of shallow water reef and seagrass habitats. Known to cooperatively hunt with other reef fishes in addition to motionless ambush techniques.


S. Florida to SE Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Also Bermuda.


Bowen, B.W., Bass, A.L., Rocha, L.A., Grant, W.S., & Robertson, D.R. 2001. Phylogeography of the trumpetfishes (Aulostomus): ring species complex on a global scale. Evolution, 55(5), 1029-1039.

Carpenter, K.E., & De Angelis, N. (Eds.). 2002. The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic (Vol. 2, pp. 602-1373). Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

McEachran, J.D. & Fechhelm, J.D. 1998. Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico, Volume 1, Myxiniformes to Gasterosteiformes. University of Texas Press, Austin. 1004p

Other Notes

Very close to Aulostomus strigosus but differs in anal fin ray count and longitudinal scale counts, as well as molecular data. Appears to intergrade with Aulostomus strigosus, which occurs in the eastern Atlantic and off Brazil. The three species of Aulostomus appear to be part of a global ring species complex with A. strigosus being more closely related to Pacific A. chinensis than it is to A. maculatus. The two Atlantic species appear to have reconnected geographically in Brazil through dispersal of the ancestor of A. strigosus from the Indian Ocean into the eastern Atlantic and SW Atlantic islands (Bowen et al., 2001), with these populations interbreeding with A. maculatus that was already present in the region.