Diplogrammus pauciradiatus

Common Name

Spotted Dragonet

Year Described

Gill, 1865


Dorsal Fin: IV, 6
Anal Fin: 4
Pectoral Fin: 16-19
Pelvic: I, 5
Caudal Fin: 7 branched (+3 above and below simple)

Body elongate but less elongate than Foetorepus. Head triangular when viewed above and flattened dorso-ventrally. Body tapering to tail. Body with a keel of skin on each side of belly. Eye quite large, close together, and dorsally placed. Mouth protrusible, small (just short of anterior orbit) and inferior. Teeth only in jaws and not palatine or vomer. Head length a quarter of standard length. Gill opening small, oval, and high on shoulder. Preopercular spine with three strong spines on tip, no basal tooth. Two dorsal fins: one spiny and one soft. All four dorsal spines filamentous in mature males (over two times D2 length) and slightly higher than D2 in females. D2 quite high with a straight to concave edge. D2 consists of unbranched rays except for last branched to base. Anal fin about as long as D2 with strong notches in the membrane margin. Anal fin consists of simple rays except for the final one which is branched to base. Pectoral fin large and fanlike. Pelvic fin expanded and broad with only a small membrane connecting it to pectoral fin base. Caudal fin rounded in both sexes (males larger and more expanded). Lateral line single and kinked downward on caudal peduncle. Scaleless.


Males and females heavily mottled in a cryptic shade of white, gray, brown, and blue markings. Normally has a few irregular brown saddles on the dorsum and brown bars radiating from eyes. Lower head of some males yellowish. Nose of displaying males dramatically orange with a black moustache across the snout. Fleshy ridge on belly with alternating black and white markings. Fins mottled brown. First dorsal fin often yellowish-brown. Dark spots on caudal rays in males. Breeding males often display enhanced blue and yellow markings on fins and head region.


Maximum size to 60mm SL. Mature adults as small as 15mm SL.


Benthic on sandy substrate (1-10m). Common in seagrass beds and patch reefs.


North Carolina to Brazil, including the Caribbean Sea and eastern Gulf of Mexico. Also Bermuda.


Davis, W.P. 1966. A review of the dragonets (Pisces: Callionymidae) of the western Atlantic. Bulletin of Marine Science, 16(4), 834-862.

Other Notes

The keeled fleshy ridges on the ventrum and low dorsal and anal fin counts easily distinguish this species. Males are the only W. Atlantic dragonet with all four dorsal spines elongated as filaments.