Melamphaes polylepis

Common Name

Many-scaled Bigscale

Year Described

Ebeling, 1962


Dorsal Fin: III, 14-15
Anal Fin: I, 7-8
Pectoral Fin: 15
Pelvic Fin: I, 7
Caudal Fin: 9-10 branched, 4 procurrent rays
Lateral Scale Rows: 34-36
Gill Rakers: 20-22
Vertebrae: 28-30

Head with numerous bony ridges and pits. No post-temporal spines, projecting anterior spines, or raised bony crest on top of head. Preopercle and opercle margins relatively smooth or with weak spination. Gill rakers in first arch relatively numerous (20 or more). Anal fin origin under or slightly behind last dorsal ray. Pectoral fin reaches last ray of dorsal fin. Pelvic fin origin behind pectoral fin origin. Body scales large and easily shed. Four scales on gill cover. Spur present on first haemal arch of caudal vertebrae.


Body uniformly dark to black.


Maximum size to 68mm SL


Taken in midwater from 0-4228. Adults taken from near surface at night with juveniles in deeper waters.


Known from the tropical and equatorial Atlantic off the S.E. United States, the Caribbean Sea and south to off N.E. South America and Brazil.


Bartow, K. W. 2010. Taxonomy and Ecology of the Deep-Pelagic Fish Family Melamphaidae, With Emphasis on Interactions With a Midocean Ridge System. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Florida Atlantic University.

Ebeling, A. W. and W. H. Weed, III. 1973. Order Xenoberyces (Stephanoberyciformes). In: Fishes of the Western North Atlantic. Memoirs of the Sears Foundation of Marine Research Mem. 1 (pt 6): 397-478.

Keene M. J. 1987. Systematics and distribution of the deep-sea fish family Melamphaidae in the Atlantic Ocean. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Rhode Island.

Kotlyar, A. N. 2011. Revision of genus Melamphaes (Melamphidae). II. Multi-raker species: M. polylepis, M. falsidicus sp. nova, M. pachystomus sp. nova, M. macrocephalus, M. leprus. Journal of Ichthyology v. 51 (no. 8): 569-580.

Mincarone, M. M., F. Di Dario and P. A. S. Costa. 2014. Deep-sea bigscales, pricklefishes, gibberfishes and whalefishes (Teleostei: Stephanoberycoidei) off Brazil: new records, range extensions for the south-western Atlantic Ocean and remarks on the taxonomy of Poromitra. Journal of Fish Biology v. 85: 1546-1570.

Other Notes

Has a higher total scale count (30-36) on average than other species in the multi-raker complex. Related species from the east Pacific ( M. macrocephalus ) and east Atlantic ( M. leprus ) lack a spur on the haemal spine. Critical comparison of Atlantic and Indo-Pacific material of this species may provide evidence for separable species (Kotlyar, 2011).