Diogenes Lanternfish

Diogenes Lanternfish, Diogenichthys laternatus

The Diogenes Lanternfish, Diogenichthys laternatus, whose common Spanish name is linternilla de Diogenes, is a member of the Lanternfish or Myctophidae Family, known collectively as linternillas in Mexico. The Diogenes Lanternfish was named after Diogenes Laertius, the biographer of Greek philosophers, who wandered around ancient Greece carrying a lantern. Globally, there are three species in the genus Diogenichthys, one of which is found in Mexican waters, this fish from the Pacific.

The Diogenes Lanternfish have an oval body profile that is much deeper anteriorly and tapers to a small caudal fin base. They are red-brown in color and have a series of prominent photophores along their sides and belly. Their head has disproportionately large eyes and a small upturned terminal mouth. Their anal fin has 15 to 17 rays and their dorsal fin has 10 to 13 rays. They have no spines.

The Diogenes Lanternfish are an epipelagic and mesopelagic species found at depths up to 2,130 feet. They reach a maximum length of 3.4 cm (1.3 inches). They are believed to form dense aggregations near the coast and to migrate vertically toward the surface at night to feed on zooplankton, then retreat toward the bottom at night to avoid predation. They can be attracted by lights at night and collected with dip nets. They are heavily preyed upon by numerous marine fish and mammals. Reproduction is oviparous with pelagic planktonic eggs and larvae. Although common, they are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Diogenes Lanternfish are found in all waters of the Pacific.

The Diogenes Lanternfish are seldom seen by humans. Due to their small stature, they are of limited interest to most.

Diogenes Lanternfish, Diogenichthys laternatus. Fish collected off the beach at Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, April 2009. Length 1.5 cm (0.6 inches). Identification courtesy of Cindy Klepadio, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.