By Bob Goemans
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Polyp Lab 


Opistognathus aurifrons

(Jordan & Thompson, 1905)

Yellowhead Jawfish, Pearly Jawfish

Likely Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable

Range: Western Atlantic Ocean: Southern Florida, Bahamas to Barbados and northern South America.

Size: 4 inches (10 cm)

Natural Environment: Inhabits burrows made from crushed coral and/or sand and generally hovers vertically above it where it’s often found near reef areas containing rubble. Found at depths between 10 – 100 feet (3 – 30 m) where it feeds mainly on zooplankton.

General Husbandry: Common in the trade and quite attractive having a yellowish head and bluish pearl body.

Can be maintained in reef or fish-only aquariums, which should contain a deep substrate, >4 inches (10 cm) of course grained sand or small pebbles, as this species will quickly create a burrow to live in. Will often move to areas that are the nearest to where food enters the aquarium. Since this is a very peaceful species, its tankmates must also be peaceful, as aggressive tankmates would prevent it from getting its share of the food when the aquarium is fed.

As to diet, products such as marine fish and crustacean flesh, clams, and other marine meaty foods should make up the majority of their diet. Therefore a meaty diet such as enriched finely chopped fresh fish or shrimp flesh, and/or frozen carnivore foods should be fed several times daily.


    Order: Perciformes

    Suborder: Percoidei

    Family: Opistognathidae

    Genus: Opistognathus

FYI: Aquarium should be covered, as this species is a very good jumper!

Depending upon aquarium size, more than one specimen can be maintained in the same aquarium. But in small aquariums, there would be too much competition between them.

    Experience Level: Beginner

    Temperament: Peaceful

    Diet: Carnivore

    Coral Safe: Yes

    Fish Safe: Yes

    Invertebrate Safe: With caution

    Acclimation Time: 30 minutes+

    Aquarium Environment: Reef or fish-only aquarium

    Tankmates: Peaceful

    Minimum Tank Size: 30+ gallons

    Temperature Range: 70 - 82°F (21 – 28°C)

    Specific Gravity: 1.020 - 1.026

    pH: 8.0 - 8.5

 Opistognathus aurifrons (Yellowhead Jawfish, Pearly Jawfish)
Photo © Zaid Fadul
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