Melamphaes suborbitalis

Common Name

Shoulderspine Bigscale

Year Described

Gill, 1883


Dorsal Fin: III, 15-16
Anal Fin: I, 7-9
Pectoral Fin: 14-16
Pelvic Fin: I, 7
Caudal Fin: 9-10 branched, 4 procurrent rays
Lateral Scale Rows: 32-36
Gill Rakers: 20-24
Vertebrae: 28-30

Head with numerous bony ridges and pits. Post-temporal spine prominent. No 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 last four rays of dorsal fin. 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 106mm SL


Captured in open water from 100-3200m, with adults most likely in deeper water.


Known from the temperate part of the north Atlantic, including off the coasts of Canada and the United States. Not known from the subtropical or equatorial Atlantic.


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.

Kotlyar, A. N. 2012. Revision of the genus Melamphaes (Melamphaidae): Part 3. Multirakered species: M. suborbitalis, M. parini, and M. acanthomus. Journal of Ichthyology v. 52 (no. 2): 137-148.

Moore, J. A., K. E. Hartel, J. E. Craddock, and J. K. Galbraith. 2003. An annotated list of deepwater fishes from off the New England region, with new area records. Northeastern Naturalist 10(2): 159-248.

Other Notes

The only other species of multi-rakered Melamphaes with a post-temporal spine are Melamphaes parini and M. acanthomus, both from the North Pacific (Kotlyar, 2012).