Mexican Sand Perch, Diplectrum macropoma: The Mexican Sand Perch has an elongated body, overall pale cooper to light brown coloration with a white belly, a series of characteristic markings including two rows of thin dark bars on the sides, a large dark spot at the base of the tail, a series of faint yellow bars under the eyes, and a purple spot on the gill covers.
All of the fins of the Mexican Sand Perch are clear with the exception that the upper portion of the caudal fin and the pectoral fins are yellow. The anal fin has a very narrow yellow stripe near the edge and the caudal fin has three yellow stripes. The dorsal fin has a continuous yellow stripe running its length and a row of spots near the perimeter which are faint in the spiny portion and prominent in the rayous portion (as pictured below).
A key to identification of the Mexican Sand Perch is that dorsal spines one to four increase proportionally stepwise in length.
The maximum length for this fish is reported to be 24.0 cm (9.4 inches) but we have collected a fish that is 25.0 cm (9.8 inches) extending the known maximum length for this species.
This fish species reaches 24 cm (9.4 inches) in length and is found at depths of between 30 and 400 feet in the water column over sandy bottoms. We have in our possession a fish that measures 28.8 cm (11.3 inches) extending the known maximum length for this species. This fish is generally too small and uncommonly found to be of interest to most. As they are a small, rare, deep water species, behavioral patterns are unknown.
The Mexican Sand Perch is not an easy species to identify and is most likely confused with the Barnsnout Sand Perch, Diplectrum rostrum (yellow stripes under the eyes), and the Squirrel Sand Perch, Diplectrum sciurus (no lines or spots on the spiny dorsal fin).
In Mexican fishing waters the Mexican Sand Perch is found from Magdalena Bay south along the Pacific side of Baja California, throughout the Sea of Cortez, and along the coastal Mexican mainland south to Guatemala. It appears to be absent from around the Mexican oceanic islands.
The Mexican Sand Perch is a member of the Serranidae Family which includes perches, groupers and sea basses which in Mexican fishing areas are known as cabrillas and meros.