Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes
(Perch-likes) > Dactyloscopidae
Etymology: Dactyloscopus: Greek, daktylos = finger + Greek, skopein = to look (Ref. 45335). More on author: Starks.
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Marine; demersal; depth range 0 - 8 m (Ref. 27742), usually ? - 3 m. Tropical; 30°N - 33°S
Western Atlantic: Florida, USA and Bahamas to Brazil.
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 7.5 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 7251)
(total): 7 - 23;
spines: 2. Common amongst Dactyloscopidae: Small, elongate fishes. Head usually broad and deep, body tapering and compressed behind. Eyes on top of head, often protrusible; mouth moderate to large, oblique to vertical; upper and/or lower lips with fimbriae; jaw teeth minute, in 2 or more series; no teeth on roof of mouth (vomer and palatines). Opercular opening large, gill membrane free from isthmus; opercles membranous, large, usually overlapping on underside of head, typically fringed above with 2 to 24 fleshy fimbriae. Dorsal fin continuous, with an isolated or semi-isolated anterior finlet, or with 1 to 5 separate anterior rays; dorsal-fin spines 7 to 23; anal-fin spines 2; dorsal and anal fins free or united to caudal fin by fragile membranes; pectoral fins broad-based, usually enlarged in mature males; caudal-fin rays simple or branched; pelvic fins under throat (insertion anterior to pectoral-fin base), with 1 spine and 3 thickened segmented rays; all other rays simple. Head and venter naked, body elsewhere with large cycloid scales (smooth to touch); lateral line high anteriorly, deflecting ventrally behind pectoral fin to continue along middle of side to caudal-fin base where terminal lateral-line scale bears ventrally directed canal. Body coloration, variably pale to strongly pigmented with white, brown, or reddish; some forms with characteristic saddle-like bars crossing back; others plain, mottled, or with indications of lateral stripes. Species distinguished by: dorsal-fin origin on nape; without a distinct anterior finlet. First preopercular canal branched, with 2 or more distal pores. Posterior naris (a patch of 1 to 8 pores) located on preorbital, between tubiform anterior naris and eye; premaxillary pedicels usually not reaching past rear margins of orbits (Ref. 52855).
Occurs in surf beaches, usually in less than 3 m depth. Burrows in soft sandy bottom, where it waits for prey, with only the eyes, nose and mouth protruding.
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
Dawson, C.E., 1982. Atlantic sand stargazers (Pisces: Dactyloscopidae), with description of one new genus and seven new species. Bull. Mar. Sci. 32(1):14-85. (Ref. 27742)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 120744)
CITES (Ref. 115941)
Threat to humans
Common namesSynonymsMetabolismPredatorsEcotoxicologyReproductionMaturitySpawningSpawning aggregationFecundityEggsEgg development
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingMass conversion
Estimates of some properties based on models
Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969
): 24.8 - 28.1, mean 27.4 (based on 652 cells).
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00389 (0.00180 - 0.00842), b=3.12 (2.94 - 3.30), in cm Total Length, based on all LWR estimates for this body shape (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 4.2 ±0.6 se; Based on size and trophs of closest relatives
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): High, minimum population doubling time less than 15 months ().
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Low vulnerability (10 of 100) .