Scalyfin Basslet, Liopropoma longilepis
The Scalyfin Basslet, Liopropoma longilepis, whose common Spanish name is cabrilla aleta escamosa, is a species in the family Serranidae, the Sea Basses, known as serranos in Mexico. Globally, there are twenty seven species in the genus Liopropoma, of which six are found in Mexican waters, four in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific.
The Scalyfin Basslets have elongated bodies and pointed heads. They have a near horizontal profile with large eyes and a slightly upturned and very large mouth with a projecting lower jaw. Their upper body is red and transitions to white ventrally. They have a prominent straight red lateral line. There is a distinctive dark red line running from the top of their mouth horizontally to the back of their eyes. Their anal, caudal, and dorsal fins are red with yellow margins. Their pectoral fins are red and their pelvic fins are transparent. Their caudal fin is strongly concave. They have an exceedingly deep tail base that is similar in size to the depth of the body. They are covered with small rough scales.
The Scalyfin Basslets are found in and around rocky and coral reefs at depths between 290 and 750 feet. They reach a maximum length of 26 cm (10 inches) and weigh less than 450 grams (1 pound). The 290-feet depth range and the maximum length for this species were established by a fish that we caught. They 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 northerly range for this species. They are an exceedingly rare very deep water species, which lacks significant scientific behavioral information and quality literature photos.
The Scalyfin Basslet is straightforward to identify due to its unique coloration pattern. In body shape it is similar to the Rainbow Basslet, Liopropoma fasciatum, the latter having significant horizontal body striping.
The Scaylfin Basslet is a very rare catch by hook and line and too small to be of interest to most.