Reef Lizardfish, Sauro Lizardfish, Calico Lizardfish
Chile, Lagarto de Arrecife
(Synodus lacertinus)

Reef Lizardfish, Synodus lacertinus: The Reef Lizardfish is characterized by its overall “lizardfish-like” appearance, with an aerodynamically slender body, lizard-like head with a short snout and large eyes with the mouth extending back past the eyes.

The Reef Lizardfish is a mottled brown to red color above the lateral line and white below. On its lower sides, the Reef Lizardfish has 10 to 12 characteristic red or brown blotches that are a key to their identification.

Also their caudal and dorsal fins have narrow dark bars which are unique to this species. The anal fin base is shorter than the dorsal fin base and the dorsal fin origin is closer to the tip of the snout than to the adipose fin.

The Reef Lizardfish is actually fairly easy to identify, due to the 10 to 12 red or brown blotches along its sides below the lateral line and its striped caudal and dorsal fins.

However, initially it appears quite similar to the California Lizardfish, Synodus lucioceps; the Sechura or Iguana Lizardfish, Synodus sechurae; and the Sharpnose or Spotted Lizardfish, Synodus evermanni.

Distribution in Mexico fishing areas

The Reef Lizardfish is a member of the Synodontidae or Lizardfish Family. In Mexican fishing waters, the Reef Lizardfish and found along the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula, in the lower two-thirds of the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland South to Guatemala. It appears to be absent from the oceanic islands.

This fish species is found in the first 100 feet of the water column over sand bottoms adjacent to reefs.

The maximum length for this fish is reported to be 20.0 cm (7.9 inches) but we have collected a fish that was 23.5 cm (9.25 inches) extending the known maximum length for this species.

Reef Lizardfish fish picture

Reef Lizardfish picture

Reef Lizardfish, Synodus lacertinus: The first fish pictured was caught during a fishing trip with Capt. Pata in the panga Salomé, La Playita, San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, midmorning in May 2003, in 77-degree, 100 to 150-foot water, utilizing a Sabiki Rig, 25 miles north of La Playita. Size approximately 6 inches. It regurgitated a broad striped anchovy that was about one-half its size, indicative of is aggressive feeding behavior. The second fish pictured was caught in a similar fashion and location in February 2007. Noteworthy is its unique coloration, the only one I have seen of this color in approximately 1,800 collections of this species. Identity confirmed by Dr. Ross Robertson, Smithsonian Institute, Panama. Description and photo courtesy of John Snow.

Reef Lizardfish picture1

Reef Lizardfish picture

Reef Lizardfish, Synodus lacertinus: Caught while fishing with Captain Pata in the panga Salome, La Playita, San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, mid-morning in May 2003, in 77-degree, 100 to 150 foot deep water, utilizing a 30-pound test with a 40-pound, two dropper loop rig, with swivel, 6-ounce bank sinker, and Mustad 92553 hooks, size 2/0, on a bare hook, 25 miles north of La Playita. Size approximately 6 inches. It regurgitated a broad striped anchovy that was about one-half its size indicative of how aggressive a feeder it is." Description and photos courtesy John Snow.

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