Mexican Lampfish

Mexican Lampfish, Triphoturus mexicanus

The Mexican Lampfish, Triphoturus mexicanus, whose common Spanish name is linternilla mexicana, is a member of the Lanternfish or Myctophidae Family, known collectively as linternillas in Mexico. Globally, there are three species in the genus Triphoturus, only one of which is found in Mexican waters, this fish from the Pacific.

The Mexican Lampfish have long slender bodies that taper toward the end. They are silvery black in color and darker around their head and the base of their caudal fin. Their anal, caudal, and dorsal fins are transparent. They have mid-sized eyes and a large mouth that extends past the eyes. They have a limited number of prominent photophores randomly positioned on their body. Their anal fin has 14 to 17 rays and their dorsal fin has 13 to 16 rays. The fins do not have spines. They have 11 to 14 gill rakers on their lower arch.

The Mexican Lampfish are an epipelagic and mesopelagic species found from the surface to depths up to 9,500 feet. They reach a maximum length of 8.0 cm (3.1 inches). They 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 Mexican Lampfish are found in all waters of the Pacific.

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

Mexican Lampfish, Triphoturus mexicanus. Fish caught off Point Loma, California, August 2010. Length: 6.0 cm (2.3 inches). Catch and identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.