Ophidium holbrooki Putnam, 1874, Key West, Florida, United States.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
Variations in squamation (scale pattern), counts of fin rays, vertebrae, and other skeletal features, and body coloration are often useful in identifying ophidiid fishes. The band cusk-eel lacks scales on the top of the head and has 66–69 total vertebrae, 117–132 dorsal rays, 977–109 anal rays, and 19–21 pectoral rays. The dorsal and anal fins are continuous with the caudal fins. The pelvic fins, each consisting of two rays, are located far forward on the chin. The head and the body are tan in color, with no mottled patterns, blotches, or bands of pigment. The dorsal and anal fins are edged in black. This species is larger, attaining about 11.8 in (30 cm) in total length, and somewhat deeper bodied than other cusk-eels (genera Ophidion, Lepophidium, Otophidion, and Parophidion) found in its home range.
Along the Atlantic coast of the United States from North Carolina south to the Gulf of Mexico and extending along the coast of Brazil to Lagoa dos Patos. The species is reported to be absent from the Bahamas.
Little is known of the specific habitats of the band cusk-eel. It has been collected with research and commercial trawls on soft muddy to sandy bottoms from near shore to about 246 ft (75 m).
There have been no studies of the
of this species. Ophidiid fishes are bottom dwellers, and many reside in burrows dug into soft mud and sand. Observations by sumersibles suggest that some ophidiid species are nocturnal and abundant in some areas. Many, perhaps all, cusk-eels produce sound, and recent acoustic surveys have found large and vocal assemblages of ophidiid fishes in some areas. Sound production most likely is related to spawning
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
There have been no studies of the feeding habits of the band cusk-eel. Ophidiid fishes consume benthic invertebrates, primarily small crustaceans (shrimps, amphipods, mysids, and crabs) and worms. Small fishes, such as anchovies, gobies, and tonguefish, also are consumed. In turn, the band cusk-eel is preyed upon by larger fishes, especially dogfish, skates, conger eels, and flounders.
Unlike bythytids, male band cusk-eels do not have a copulatory organ, and fertilization occurs externally. The eggs and larvae have not been described, and the early life stages of this and most cusk-eel species are unknown.
Not listed by the IUCN.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
This species is landed as by-catch in trawl fisheries for shrimps and bottom fishes and may appear in fish markets in some countries of South America. It is relatively small and has limited value in commercial markets, although its flesh is considered good.
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