Twice-spotted Soapfish

Twice-spotted Soapfish, Rypticus nigripinnis

The Twice-spotted Soapfish, Rypticus nigripinnis, whose common Spanish name is jabonero doble punteado, is a species in the Grouper or Epinephelidae Family, known collectively as serranos in Mexico. Globally, there are only nine species in the genus Rypticus, seven of which are found in Mexican waters, five in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific.

The Twice-spotted Soapfish have overall brown, elongated, and very compressed bodies that are covered with numerous yellow-tan spots with dark centers extending into the fins. They have an oblique forehead, a short snout, and a slightly projecting lower jaw that does not have a fleshy knob at the tip. Their caudal fin is dark. Their dorsal fin has only two spines, providing a key to identification. Their median fins are thick and fleshy. Their anal fin is without spines. Their caudal and pectoral fins are rounded.

The Twice-spotted Soapfish are found within rocky reefs sheltering in caves and crevices and over soft bottoms near beaches and estuaries, at depths up to 230 feet. They reach a maximum of 35 cm (13.8 inches) in length and less than 450 grams (1 pound) in weight. They are a small and rare species and very little is known about their behavior.

In Mexican waters the Twice-spotted Soapfish have a limited distribution being found from Magdalena Bay southward along the southeast coast of Baja, in the lower three-fourths of the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.

The Twice-spotted Soapfish can be easily confused with the Mottled Soapfish, Rypticus bicolor (three dorsal spines; fleshy knob at tip of snout).

The Twice-Spotted Soapfish is too small and too rare to be of interest to most.

Twice-spotted Soapfish, Rypticus nigripinnis. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, November 2011. Length: 12.5 cm (5.0 inches).

Twice-spotted Soapfish, Rypticus nigripinnis. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of Bahía Kino, Sonora, March 2015. Length: 12.8 cm (5.0 inches). Photo and identification courtesy of Maria Johnson, Prescott College Kino Bay Center, Kino Bay, Sonora.