Tonguefish Family Photos and Information – Cynoglossidae

The Tonguefish Family – Cynoglossidae

Banded Tonguefish, Symphurus fasciolaris, a representative member of the Tonguefish or Cynoglossidae Family.

The fish of the Tonguefish or Cynoglossidae Family are a group of small flat fish that seldom exceed 20 cm (8 inches) in length. They have elongated oval bodies that taper to a pointed tail. Members of this family are found in all tropical and subtropical seas and include one hundred thirty-four species placed in three genera. In Mexico they are known as Lenguas. They are left-eyed fish and do not have a lateral line.

The Tonguefish vary in color with the eyed-side usually being a uniform brown and marked with patches, spots, or cross bands on the body; their blind or ventral side is a uniform whitish- yellow. The Tonguefish have small curved asymmetrical mouths with minute teeth and small eyes that are set close together. Their anal and dorsal fins are confluent with their pointed caudal fin. Their dorsal fin originates well before the eyes. They lack pectoral fins and have only a left pelvic fin that is fused to their anal fin. They do not have fin spines. Their body is covered with small smooth scales.

The Tonguefish typically inhabit sandy and muddy bottoms near reefs and are well-camouflaged in their surroundings. They consume fish and crustaceans.

Being small in stature they are not considered an important food fish and are caught primarily as a by-catch of deep-water shrimp trawlers. They are marketed on a limited basis either fresh, frozen, or dried-salted.

There are three members of the Tonguefish or Cynoglossidae Family currently presented in this website:

Banded Tonguefish, Symphurus fasciolaris
Chocolate Tonguefish, Symphurus callopterus
Darkcheek Tonguefish, Symphurus chabanaudi