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.
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.