Scalyfin Basslet

Scalyfin Basslet, Liopropoma longilepis

The Scalyfin Basslet, Liopropoma longilepis, whose common Spanish name is Cabrilla Aleta Escamosa, is a member of the Sea Bass or Serranidae Family, known collectively as “serranos” in Mexico. They are a very colorful fish and one of the few bright oceanic fishes. The Basslets are very colorful fishes and sold extensively by the aquarium trade.

The Scalyfin Basslet has an elongated body with a pointed head that has a near horizontal profile with large eyes and a slightly upturned very large mouth with a projecting lower jaw. The upper body is red in color and gradates to white ventrally. They have a prominent straight red lateral line. There is a distinctive dark red line running from the top of the mouth horizontally to the back of the eye. The anal fin, caudal fin, and dorsal fins are red with yellow margins. The pectoral fins are red and the pelvic fins are transparent. They have an exceedingly deep tail base that is similar in size to the depth of the body. The caudal fin is strongly concave. The bodies are covered with small rough scales.

The Scalyfin Basslet is found in and around rocky and coral reefs at depths between 290 and 750 feet. They reach a maximum length of 26 cm (10.2 inches) and weigh less than one-half kg (1 pound). The 290 foot depth range and the maximum length for this species have been established by a fish that we caught. They are an exceedingly rare very deep water species that lacks significant scientific behavioral information and quality literature photos.

The Scalyfin Basslet is a straightforward identification due to the unique coloration pattern. In body shape they are similar to the Rainbow Basslet, Liopropoma fasciatum (significant horizontal body striping). The Scalyfin Basslet have a limited distribution in Mexican waters of the Pacific being found in the southern half of the Sea of Cortez and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala. We have a fish in our possession that was caught 40 miles north of Cabo San Lucas in the Pacific extending the known range for this species.

The Scaylfin Basslet is a very rare catch by hook and line and too small to be of interest to most.

Scalyfin Basslet, Liopropoma longilepis: Fish caught out of 290-foot water off El Tule, Baja California Sur, August 2013, on cut squid utilizing a traditional bottom rig. Size: 26.2 cm (10.2 inches). Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.

Scalyfin Basslet, Liopropoma longilepis: Fish caught out of 290-foot water off El Tule, Baja California Sur, August 2013, on cut squid utilizing a traditional bottom rig. Size: 26.2 cm (10.2 inches). Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.