Opistognathus leprocarus

Common Name

Roughcheek Jawfish

Year Described

Smith-Vaniz, 1997


Dorsal Fin: X-XI, 11-13
Anal Fin: III, 11-12
Pelvic Fin: I, 5
Pectoral Fin: 19-22
Gill Rakers: 46-53 (total)
Vertebrae: 10 precaudal, 16 caudal; 26 total

A stout jawfish; resembling the grammatid genus Lipogramma. Maxilla of males without posterior extension. Jaws relatively short and reaching only slightly past rear margin of orbit. Premaxillary, dentary, and vomer with teeth. Lateral line extends posteriorly to between 2nd and 5th segmented dorsal ray. Nape, body, belly, and cheeks with scales. Lateral scale rows: 38-44. Pelvic fin elongate. Dorsal fin spines slender with rigid tips. Anterior nostril without cirrus.


Body yellow basally with bluish-lavender horizontal stripes broken up by the yellow base color. Opercular margin with a jet black blotch edged with white. Eye with rings of yellow and bluish edge. Dorsal fin bluish-lavender with several yellow blotches basally that run onto the body, and a second yellow band distally with a white fin edge. Anal fin bluish-lavender with yellow spots basally and a submarginal stripe. Caudal fin with yellow spots basally and bluish pigment on rest of fin. Pelvic fin bright white.


Adults range from 45.7-81.2mm SL.


A deep water jawfish living between 165-308m. Forms burrows with rubble and seeks shelter within them.


Known from the Bahamas and the Lesser Antilles(St. Lucia and Virgin Is.).


Smith-Vaniz, W. F. 1997. Five new species of jawfishes (Opistognathus: Opistognathidae) from the western Atlantic Ocean. Bulletin of Marine Science v. 60 (3): 1074-1128.