Deepwater Cornetfish

Deepwater Cornetfish, Fistularia corneta

The Deepwater Cornetfish, Fistularia corneta, whose common Spanish name is corneta flautera, is a species in the Cornetfish or Fistulariidae Family, known collectively as cornetas in Mexico. Globally, there are thirteen species in the genus Fistularia, four of which are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific.

The Deepwater Cornetfish have extremely elongated, depressed bodies with a very long tubular snout and a short oblique terminal mouth equipped with minute teeth. They are a uniform orange-brown color with a lighter colored underside. However, smaller fish my be barred. They have a very slender snout and a slender jaw, and the distance between the eyes is large. Their anal and dorsal fin bases are orange and their anal, caudal, and dorsal fins are pinkish. Their caudal filament is dark. Their anal and dorsal fins are sickle-shaped and found at the rear of the body directly opposite each other. There are 16 – 19 anal rays and 17 – 20 dorsal rays. Their caudal fin is forked with a long central filament, which in some fish is non-existent. Their pelvic fins are well behind their pectoral fins. The lateral line is arched over the first half of the body and continues into the tail filament.

The Deepwater Cornetfish is found demersal over soft and hard bottoms including estuaries at depths up to 165 feet. They have a maximum length of 1.28 meters (4 feet 2 inches). They are a poorly studied species and as such very limited information is available about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Deepwater Cornetifish are found in all waters of the Pacific.

The Deepwater Cornetfish can be confused with the Reef Cornetfish, Fistularia commersonii (larger snout, tan-brown coloration with blue spots, long white caudal filament).

This species is a visual phenomenon and a true exotic, however is of limited interest to most and considered a “catch and release.”

Deepwater Cornetfish (4)Deepwater Cornetfish (5)Deepwater Cornetfish (6)Deepwater Cornetfish, Fistularia corneta. Fish caught  from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, July 2015. Length: 36 cm (14 inches). Most unusual barring, perhaps a juvenile.

Deepwater Cornetfish (2)Deepwater Cornetfish, Fistularia corneta. Fish caught out from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, December 2012. Length: 60 cm (24 inches). Differences in caudal filament element are demonstrated in the first and third pictures with a second fish caught in a similar fashion, September 2011. Length: 50 cm (20 inches). Fish identifications courtesy of Dr. Richard Rosenblatt and H.J. Walker, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.

Deepwater Cornetfish, Fistularia corneta, Caudal Fin Element (above) versus Reef Cornetfish, Fistularia commersonii, Caudal Fin Element (below).  Amazingly similar!