Spottedtail Goosefish

Spottedtail Goosefish, Lophiodes caulinaris

The Spottedtail Goosefish, Lophiodes caulinaris, whose common Spanish name is rape rabo manchado,  is a species in the Goosefish or Lophiidae Family, known collectively as rapes pescadores in Mexico. Globally, there are fifteen species in the genus Lophiodes, of which three are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific.

The Spottedtail Goosefish has a body that is wide at the front and tapers toward the back. They are mottled brown in color with the caudal fin being dark brown with a ventral row of white spots across the middle; the outer half of the pectoral fins is black with a narrow white margin. They have a very large broad flattened head with a large wide mouth that bears long, sharp, recurved teeth. The eyes are on top, the top jaw is protractile and the lower jaw is projecting. The first dorsal spine, located at the tip of the snout just above the mouth, has been modified into an angling apparatus (illicium) that bears a pennant-like lure (esca) that is used to attract prey. They have two other isolated standalone dorsal spines, connected by a membrane, located above the pectoral fins, and a separate spinous dorsal fin, located well back in the body, with three spines. The gill openings extend from in front of to behind the pectoral fin base. The pectoral fins are somewhat unique being long and “arm-like” bony structures. They have smooth skin and are scaleless.

The Spottedtail Goosefish is found over and within sandy and mud bottoms at depths between 50 and 1,250 feet. They reach a maximum length of 44.5 cm (17.5 inches). They are “lie in wait” ambush predators, feeding on small fishes and crustaceans. The Spotted Tail Goosefish are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Spottedtail Goosefish are found in all waters of the Pacific.

The Spottedtail Goosefish is an easy fish to identify and due to their body shape and the row of white spots on the base of its tail for which it is named. They are however, similar to the elusive Threadfin Goosefish, Lophiodes spilurus (lure bulb-like; second and third dorsal spines are black).

The Spottedtail Goosefish is too rare and too bony to be of interest to most. They are caught at a modest level by deepwater trawlers and are a “catch-and-release.” I have provide a couple of these to one of the major countries within the European Community in 2012 and they used my fish to establish as a protocol for the DNA They used my fish to establish a DNA profile which includes a total of seven global Goosefish to apprehend the fraudulent bad guys who are replacing “valuable fish high-cost fish with other trash fish” and reaping big profits (Lorenze Castigliego, et al., Food Chemistry, 166, 1-9 (2015).

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Spottedtail Goosefish, Lophiodes caulinaris. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, August 2008. Size: 37 cm (14.5 inches).