The Bigeye Family – Pricanthiade
The fish of the Bigeye or Priacanthidae Family are a group of marine fish found in tropical and subtropical parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, and feature nineteen global members in fourgenera. In Mexico, they are known as catalufas. They are named for their large eyes and are characterized by a strongly compressed, deep body and a large upturned mouth with a projecting lower jaw. They have a prominent to flat spine at the bottom corner of their gill cover. Their anal fin has 3 spines and 10 to 16 rays, and varies in length by species. Their caudal fin is either slightly lunate or rounded. Their dorsal fin is continuous with 10 spines and 11 to 15 rays; the terminal end is either broadly rounded or broadly pointed. Their pectoral fins are short. Their pelvic fins vary by species from short to very long and are broadly attached by a membrane to the belly and positioned in advance of the pectoral fins. Their body is covered with rough scales.
Bigeyes are bright red fish with various patterns of silver, dusky brown, or black. Most species reach a maximum length of about 30 cm (12 inches), although a few species reach 50 cm (20 inches). They are bottom dwellers (epibenthic) and most are found in relatively deep waters in and around coral or rock structures at depths up to 1,500 feet.
Bigeyes live as solitary individuals or in small aggregated groups. They are carnivorous and are typically nocturnally active, with most spending daylight hours in caves; some, however, feed diurnally. Most emerge at night to feed on larger zooplankton such as crab and shrimp larvae, fish larvae, small squids and octopuses, and larval polychaete worms. Reproduction occurs via pelagic eggs.
Larvae and early juvenile stages transform to settle to suitable habitats as they are nonguarders. Fossil records date the Priacanthidae Family to the middle Eocene epoch of the lower Tertiary period, forty to fifty million years ago.
Some Priacanthiadae are fished for food, however, they are not a significant food fish. The majority are taken as a by-catch in open waters via trawl nets, with the remainder being caught via hook and line.
There are four members of the Bigeye Family, one from the Atlantic and three from the Pacific, currently presented in this website:
Note: There is one additional Bigeye that is known resident of Mexican waters of the Pacific – the Hawaiian Bigeye (Catalufa Alalahua), Priacanthus alalaua which is found along the Northwest coast of Baja and around the Mexican oceanic islands. I would welcome a photograph of this species for posting herein. On this topic I remain ever vigilant.