Red Brotula, Brosmophycis marginata
The Red Brotula, Brosmophycis marginata, whose common Spanish name is brótula roja, is a species in the family Bythitidae, the Viviparous Brotulas, known collectively as brótulas viviparas in Mexico. The family has ninety-six species that have been placed in thirty-three genera, seven of which are found in Mexican waters. This species is the only species in the genus Brosmophycis, and it is found in Mexican waters of the Pacific. This eel is very similar to the Cusk-eel or Ophidiidae Family, except that they give live birth (ovoviviparous) with planktonic pelagic larvae.
The Red Brotulas are long slender fish. They have a reddish-brown coloration that transitions to white ventrally and a pale red head with pink lips and pink mucus. Their head is short with a blunt snout and a large mouth that extends past their small eyes. Their anal fin have 72 to 81 rays and the dorsal fins (98 to 110 rays and are covered with skin and have red margins. Their caudal and pectoral fins are bright red. Their small caudal fin is rounded and separated from their anal and dorsal fins. Their dorsal fin is long and continuous with their anal and caudall fins. They have 4 thin thread-like pelvic fins (two long and two short) hat are nearly joined together and found under their gill cavity. Their lateral line is well defined and arched in the fore section then broken into the rear section extending into the caudal fin. They are devoid of spines.
The Red Brotulas inhabit rocky reefs and are found at depths up to 840 feet. They reach a maximum length of 46 cm (18 inches). They hide in caves during the daytime and only emerge at night to feed on crustaceans, polychaete worms, small clams, and other invertebrates.
In Mexican waters the Red Brotula have a limited distribution being found from Cedros Island northward along the central and northwest coasts of Baja.
The Red Brotula can be confused with the Purple Brotula, Grammonus diagrammus (smaller with maximum length of 20 cm; continuous anal, caudal, and dorsal fins).
The Red Brotulas are rarely available but are reported to have a sweet and fine-textured flesh. They are seldom seen by humans and are of limited interest to most.
Red Brotula, Brosmophycis marginata. Fish caught from coastal waters off Point Loma, California, April 2008. Length: 24 cm (9.4 inches). Catch courtesy of Eddie Kisfaludy, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA. Fish identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.