Lucifuga spelaeotes

Common Name

Bahama Cave Brotula

Year Described

Cohen & Robins, 1970


Dorsal Fin: 86-109
Anal Fin: 66-82
Pectoral Fin: 17-20
Caudal Fin: 10
Vertebrae: 51-55
Gill Rakers: 15-23 (first arch)

Body robust and elongate with an abruptly flattened (concave in profile) head above the mouth. Eye very small (~1% SL). Anterior nostril a tube on snout. Posterior nostril a hole closer to eye. Supraorbital pores 4, infraorbital pores 6, mandibular pores 6, preopercular pores 2. Mouth large with an expanded maxilla posteriorly. Teeth present on premaxilla, vomer, and dentary in several rows. Palatine teeth present. Pseudobranchial filaments 0-4. Dorsal fin origin over pectoral fins. Anal fin origin well behind dorsal origin. Dorsal and anal fin not connected to tail. Pectoral fin inserted on midbody. Pelvic fin a single filamentous ray. Body and head posterior to the orbit scaled (about 25 rows on body). Occiput with few scales. Lateral line with 12-19 dorsal neuromasts and 30-47 lateral neuromasts.


Body uniformly brown. Ridges and pores on head/lips whitish. Bases of fins opaque whitish or dark. Rest of fins pale to translucent. Eye blackish. Gill filaments black.


Specimens range from 42-166mm SL.


Known from submarine caves and sinkholes, mostly between the surface and 12m. Found in water of moderate to high salinity.


Known only from the islands of the Great Bahama Bank: Berry, New Providence, Great Exuma, Eleuthera, Long Island, and possibly Andros Island.


Nielsen, J.G. 2006. Revision of the Bahamian cave-fishes of the genus Lucifuga (Ophidiiformes, Bythitidae), with description of a new species from islands on the Little Bahama Bank. Zootaxa, 1223, 23-46.

Other Notes

There are two allopatric Lucifuga in the Bahamas, but this is the only species on the Great Bahama Bank. They can be separated by details in meristics, squamation on the top of the head, presence of palatine teeth, and gill filament pigmentation.

There is variation in some morphological traits (including color) from different islands on the Great Bahama Bank but not enough evidence to warrant treating them as different species. The existence of this species on Andros Island has not been confirmed.