Barred Filefish

Barred Filefish, Cantherhines dumerilii

The Barred Filefish, Cantherhines dumerilii, whose common Spanish name is lija vagabunda, is a species in the Filefish or Monacanthidae Family, known collectively as lijas in Mexico. Globally, there are twelve species in the genus Canthernines, three of which are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.

The Barred Filefish have deep oblong compressed bodies. They are grayish-brown with a series of incomplete dark bars on their sides toward the rear of their body. Their eyes have a yellow-gold iris and their pectoral and caudal fins are yellow. Males are more highly colored than females or juveniles. They have a long pointed snout, a small mouth that opens at the front, and mid-sized prominent eyes set high on their head. Their anal fin has 28 to 35 rays and their caudal fin is straight or slightly rounded. They have two dorsal fins with the first having two spines; the first spine, located over the front half of the eyes, is robust, can be locked in place by the small second spine, and folds down into a deep grove. The second dorsal fin has 34 to 39 dorsal rays. Their body is covered with small scales and their skin has the texture of fine sandpaper.

The Barred Filefish are found in coral and rocky reefs at depths up to 225 feet. They reach a maximum length of 38 cm (15 inches). They feed on algae, branching coral, mollusks, sea urchins, and sponges. They are normally found as solitary individuals or in pairs. They are shy fish and quickly take cover in caves and large crevices of the reef.

In Mexican waters the Barred Filefish have a very limited distribution being found only around the southeast tip of Baja and along the coastal mainland around Guadalajara.

The Barred Filefish is easy to identify due to the barring pattern on its sides, its yellow caudal and pectoral fins, and the yellow-gold colored iris of its eyes, thus it cannot be confused with any other species.

The Barred Filefish are exceeding rare and have a very limited distribution, therefore are of limited interest to most.

Barred Filefish, Cantherhines dumerilii. Fish caught from within the Kona Marina, Kona, HI, May 2015. Length: 20 cm (7.9 inches). Catch, photos and identifications courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Barred Filefish (2)Barred Filefish, Cantherhines dumerilii. Fish caught from within the Kona Marina, Kona, HI, May 2015. Length: 22 cm (8.5 inches). Catch, photos and identifications courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Barred Filefish, Cantherhines dumerilii. Underwater photo taken in coastal waters off Kailua-Kona, HI, October 2015. Length: 26 cm (10 inches). Photo courtesy of Bob Hillis, Ivins, UT.

Barred Filefish, Cantherhines dumerilii. Underwater photo taken in coastal waters of Bahia Tenacatita, Jalisco, February 2015. Length: 27 cm (11 inches). Photo and identification provided by Jeff Cross, Albuquerque, NM.