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FAQs about Jawfishes, Family Opistognathidae Identification

Related Articles: Jawfishes,

Related FAQs: Jawfishes 1, Jawfishes 2, Blue-Spotted Jawfish, Pearly Jawfish, & Jawfish Behavior, Jawfish Compatibility, Jawfish Selection, Jawfish Systems, Jawfish Feeding, Jawfish Disease, Jawfish Reproduction,

Due to their behavior, specializations for living in burrows of their own construction, Opistognathids are easily identifiable.

Jawfish ID 8/3/11
Dear Wet Web Crew,
I moved to a new city a little over a year ago and am now settled in enough to restart my aquarium (I'm very excited)! The last time I had my tank up my favorite fish was a jawfish. My goal is to try and get the same kind I had last time, however I've had mixed opinions on fish-keeping forums about what type of jawfish I had. I've seen very similar (and very dissimilar) pictures of ruby jawfish, dusky jawfish, and a few variations with German names that I couldn't translate. I mixed together some pics I had of my jawfish and thought I'd ask your opinion. Which jawfish is this?
<I think Opistognathus castelnaui. Please see here:
Fishbase.org coverage of nominal species...>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

"Special" Multicolor Blenny, not responding... 4/22/09
Hello and thank you for providing the wonderful service that is the WetWebMedia website,
<Hi Edgar, and you're welcome.>
I recently purchased what I now believe to be a mislabeled fish. My LFS had it labeled as a Leopard Blenny, but a quick image search when I got home revealed that it likely is not. It's a bit over 4" long and a bit thicker than a nickel. I attached a photo. Any idea what it could be? I've been searching the net for days and can't come up with anything. Many thanks in advance,
<I can't find a match either, but likely it's a blenny from the genus Ecsenius... Bob? <<? James?>>
James (Salty Dog)>
<<... it's not me either... This looks like a Jawfish species (Family Opistognathidae) rather than a Blenny, Blennioid. RMF>>

Mail. Not goby/Jaw ID 04/22/09
Re <<... it's not me either... This looks like a Jawfish species (Family Opistognathidae) rather than a Blenny, Blennioid. RMF>>
Believe you called it....now likely an Opistognathus species, quite possibly the Chestnut Jawfish. You're the man!
<We're the petfish men! B>

Jawfish, Indo., unid.ed 2/26/09 Hi all. Have learned much by reading through the website. The Bob's book was incredibly informing too. I was looking through you FAQs on Jawfish because i recently purchased one. My question is what can you tell me about so called Bali tiger jaws or tiger jaws, and gold specs jaws. I looked at the pictures in the identification section and they both look the same to me. <There are a few Opistognathids from the area as yet unidentified by/to science...> the jaws i purchased was sold as a tiger jaw but it does have goldish orange crescents above its eyes with a yellow down its dorsal fin and around its tail, as well as "tiger" striping down its sides. much thanks, Jonathan <Mmm, do see Fishbase.org re the family... Show all species... for the pix they have, species... I have only seen these Jaws occasionally in the trade here in the West... the last few years. Are hardy, beautiful... Jumpers! Bob Fenner>

Jawfish ID 9/17/08 Hello WWM Crew, I recently purchased a Jawfish from a local tropical fish store. Being an avid Jawfish keeper, I noticed this one was quite unusual. The salesman called it a Ruby Jawfish and that it was a variance of the Dusky Jawfish. <May be> Although the red mottled coloration does resemble a Dusky Jawfish, the head and body shape resembled a Blue Spot Jawfish. I did a search on Google with no helpful results. Attached is a photo. I'm hoping your crew can positively ID this Jawfish. I have seen Tinfoil Barbs, Glassfish and Giant Gouramis artificially colored. I was hoping this is not the case. Thank you, Ed <I cannot. Please see here re the pix, species of Opistognathids listed on FishBase.org: http://fishbase.org/identification/specieslist.cfm?famcode=366&areacode= My guess is that the retailer was about right. OTOH, years back I wrote Dr. John/Jack Randall re the families taxonomic status as to species and if memory serves he stated that there were at least another dozen species that were as yet named. Bob Fenner>

Re: Jawfish ID 9/18/09 Hello Bob Fenner and WWM Crew <Ed> Thank you for the timely response and post on WWM.com. The website (fishbase.org) you referred me to is very informative. My so called, "Ruby Jawfish" closely resembles Opistognathus castelnaui but with a maroon hue. I shall setup my video camera and film him as it eats to capture a full body shot. <Ah, very good> Thank you again, Ed <Welcome. BobF>

Indescribable.. I mean Undescribed Jawfish...? Hello! I recently purchased a Jawfish that was labeled a Black Cap Jawfish, however, after searching your site, I see it labeled as a U1 undescribed Jawfish. Has this fish been IDd yet? Thank you, Jim <Mmm, maybe... I do recall seeing some that had been recently described. Maybe give a read over on fishbase.org on the family Opistognathidae... Bob Fenner> <<May be Opistognathus randalli. RMF>>

Re: Jawfish Thanks for the response Bob! I checked that site and although it turned up loads of info, I didn't see anything on this particular Jawfish, unless I missed it, but I don't think so. I more curious now than ever! Any more info/leads you can provide would be greatly appreciated... Jim <Mmm, none other than Dr. Jack Randall has stated to me that he has more than a dozen undescribed species of these fishes... from the tropical Indo-Pacific... You might want to email him with pix... Bob Fenner>

Re: Jawfishes ID Jim: The person to contact about Jawfishes is Dr. William F. Smith-Vaniz. He's the one who has many new species to described (and has been sitting on them far too long). His e-mail: Bill_Smith-Vaniz@usgs.gov <Thanks much Jack, mahalo, Bob Fenner over in Holualoa, mauka of Kona...>

New Jawfish HELP 7/20/05 I just picked up a new Jawfish. The LFS identified it as a Yellow Jawfish, however, after looking at your site, it is described as "Opistognathus sp. U1" an unidentified species. It looks just like the picture to the far right of your description. The LFS had it in a tank with triggers and aggressive fish. I have an aggressive tank, and they said it would be fine. The LFS had the fish for about a month and it was doing well and eating. It had built a burrow and looked very feisty. Has anything else been discovered about this fish? I have a Huma Trigger, a Koran Angel, a Yellow Tang, Snowflake Eel, Lionfish, and a Possum Wrasse in my tank. Was I given the wrong advice?
<If it were me, this fish would be in a docile tank where it would be more relaxed and more likely to get it's share of food. You would also see more activity in the fish. Amy, do a Google search on the WWM, keyword, "Jawfish", and read. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks! <You're welcome> Amy

Indo Pix of the day, week, life (Identifications... this time Opistognathid U1) Lovely new pics. Are you sure your "Opistognathus sp." isn't indeed; "Opistognathus macrognathos" the banded Jawfish? http://filaman.uni-kiel.de/Photos/PicturesSummary.cfm?StartRow=1&ID=3686&what=species <... absolutely sure... the one pictured is also found on Fishbase as the species you mention: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=3686&genusname= Opistognathus&speciesname=macrognathos along with a pic by myself... But the species (O. macrognathos) is found in the tropical West Atlantic... the pix I sent as unknown species I shot (for sure) a couple weeks back in N. Sulawesi. I have a bunch of "unknown" pix... and appreciate any help ad identifying them... Bob Fenner>

Jawfish Hi Guys. My local FS here in the UK has just received a delivery of 6 of these beauties.......... <Agreed. This is a neat species.> "Opistognathus sp. U1. One of many as-yet undescribed Jawfish species. Dr. Randall (pers. corr.) told me once that he had backlogged at least a dozen or so in this family... let's hope he gets around to them soon. N. Sulawesi pix. OR Opistognathus sp. Gold Specs Jawfish. Mabul Malaysia. A male with a mouthful of eggs." Difficult to ID as the ones they have in have similar body markings but totally black heads with bright orange eyes. <Mmm, I wrote the above text and took the pix... as far as I know this species is still unidentified... What else can I add? Let's see, for the family they're quite outgoing, and don't seem to get any larger (have seen a couple dozen specimens)> We get very very few Jawfish into the UK and they are always expensive. I am taking a pair (can you ID male /female ??) for my system as first fish in. <Have seen males with eggs in mouth... but no discernible external differences I'm aware of between sexes> I have mixed substrate (aragonite, course grain and rubble) to a depth of 4"...I assume that would be ok. <Sounds good> Notice on WWM site that this species has very little information. can you give me a pointer to any other sites that might have or is this a relatively newish !! species. <Would have to look the same as you> Look forward to your prompt reply. Steve. Tope <Keep good notes, and an open eye for literature... and consider writing an article and more re your experiences. Bob Fenner>

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