Opistognathus maxillosus

Common Name

Mottled Jawfish

Year Described

Poey, 1860


Dorsal Fin: X-XI, 14-16
Anal Fin: II-III, 14-16
Pelvic Fin: I, 5
Pectoral Fin: 19-22
Gill Rakers: 25-33 (total)
Vertebrae: 10 precaudal, 17-19 caudal; 27-29 total

Maxilla of males without thin, flexible posterior extension. Jaws large; reaching well past rear margin of orbit. Premaxillary and dentary with teeth. Vomer with 1-2 teeth. Lateral line extends posteriorly to between 3rd and 7th segmented dorsal ray. Nape, head, pectoral base, and anterior area above lateral line scaleless. Rest of body fully scaled, including posterior area above lateral line. Lateral scale rows: 69-85. Dorsal fin spines slender with sharp, flexible tips. Anterior nostril with a short cirrus.


Body whitish basally with several diffuse brown blotches on side forming a broken stripe. Ventral brown extensions of these blotches create white blotches on the lower body. Head whitish with dark bands and brown reticulations. Lips with a few brown bands and a conspicuous dark band at level behind orbit. Base of dorsal fin with 5-6 dark blotches, including one oval blotch between spines 6 and 10. Distal part of dorsal and anal fins with rows of white spots. Caudal fin with two basal white spots and several rows of black spot-bands. Pectoral fin speckled with black.


Maximum size to 125mm SL.


A shallow water species, living between 0-12m.


Southern Florida to northern South America, including the Caribbean islands.


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.