Overview

Comprehensive Description

The wormfishes are tiny and rarely-seen relatives of the gobies. There are only two Caribbean genera: Cerdale floridana and the genus Microdesmus with five regional species. Fortunately, fin-ray counts clearly distinguish the regional species, which share almost all other larval characters and markings. Despite the small size of the adults, the larvae are large and not uncommon in larval collections.

The dartfishes of the family Ptereleotridae have been taxonomically mobile in recent years and some taxonomists now include them in the wormfish family Microdesmidae. I place them here alongside the family Eleotridae because they are also gobioids and share the clearly-divided pelvic fins of the eleotrids. Larval ptereleotrids most closely resemble the "long" larvae of my Group 4 gobies. There are only two dartfishes in the region, a pair of sibling species that vary only slightly in color: their larvae are likely identical.

Larval microdesmids are long and worm-like with a prominent mid-body swim bladder. They have a characteristically blunt, hooked, and protruding lower jaw and more, usually many more, than 35 elements in the dorsal fin and 23 in the anal fin. These features easily distinguish them from the gobies and other gobioids. Wormfish larvae are morphologically similar to the larval pikeblennies of Chaenopsis, but the latter have long and thread-like pelvic fins while larval wormfishes have inconspicuous pelvic fins. Transforming eel larvae of many families may superficially resemble larval microdesmids, but the eels do not have a normal caudal fin as do the microdesmids and chaenopsids.

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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Description

Distribution: tropical seas. Body elongated to anguilliform. Tip of tongue not lobed. Scales cycloid, small, and embedded in body. Lower jaw jutted and heavy. Dorsal fin long, the spinous and soft dorsal confluent. Dorsal spines 10-28, flexible; soft rays 28-66. Soft rays in anal fin 23-61. Pelvic fins small, originating below pectoral fin base. A single spine in pelvic fin; soft rays 2-4. With 10-16 rays in pectoral fin. Caudal fin separate or confluent with dorsal and anal fins. To 30 cm maximum length. Inhabits shallow waters: coral reefs to muddy estuaries and tidepools; often burrowing in sand and mud.
  • MASDEA (1997).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records: 208
Specimens with Sequences: 182
Specimens with Barcodes: 178
Species: 25
Species With Barcodes: 24
Public Records: 103
Public Species: 21
Public BINs: 21
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Barcode data

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Wikipedia

Microdesmidae

Microdesmidae, the wormfishes and dartfishes are a family, of goby-like fishes in the order Perciformes. There are currently two sub-families in this family which were briefly treated as full families - the Ptereleotrinae (dartfishes) and Microdesminae (wormfishes).[1]

They are found in shallow tropical waters, both marine and brackish, often burrowing in estuarine mud. They are small fishes, the largest species reaching only about 12 cm in length.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2013). "Microdesmidae" in FishBase. December 2013 version.
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Wormfish

Wormfishes are a subfamily, Microdesminae, of goby-like fishes in family Microdesmidae of the order Perciformes.[1]

They are found in shallow tropical waters, both marine and brackish, often burrowing in estuarine mud. They are small fishes, the largest species reaching only about 12 cm in length.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2013). "Microdesmidae" in FishBase. December 2013 version.
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