Opistognathus lonchurus

Common Name

Moustache Jawfish

Year Described

Jordan & Gilbert, 1882


Dorsal Fin: XI, 12-13
Anal Fin: II-III, 12-13
Pelvic Fin: I, 5
Pectoral Fin: 18-20
Gill Rakers: 34-45 (lower limb of first arch)
Vertebrae: 10 precaudal, 16 caudal; 26 total

Maxilla of males without thin, flexible posterior extension. Jaws huge; reaching well past rear margin of orbit. Premaxillary and dentary with teeth. Vomer with 2-8 teeth. Nape, head, pectoral base, and area above lateral line scaleless. Rest of body fully scaled. Lateral scale rows: 67-86. Dorsal fin spines slender with sharp, flexible tips. Anterior nostril without a cirrus. Dorsal fin high and sail-like in males.


Body olive green to yellowish-brown, with turquoise to bluish hues on the dorsum. Head with a yellowish "moustache" marking above the upper lip running onto the cheek. Jaws bright turquoise. Body with two bright blue stripes running from pectoral area to caudal fin. Fins yellowish with several faint blue stripes and bright blue margins.


Maximum size to 122mm SL.


A deepwater jawfish collected up to a depth of 91m. Found in burrows on rubble bottoms.


Florida to northern South America, including the Gulf of Mexico.


Böhlke, J.E. 1967. A new sexually dimorphic jawfish (Opistognathus; Opistognathidae) from the Bahamas. Notulae Naturae (Philadelphia) No. 407: 1-12.

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.