Chaetodipterus faber

Chaetodipterus faber is a species belonging to the class Actinopterygii, the order Perciformes and the family Ephippidae, found in the waters of the west central Atlantic Ocean, from the coasts of Massachusetts, through the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean, to the waters of northern Brazil. Preferred habitats for this species are coastal and shallow reef waters, mangroves, sandy beaches, bays and wrecks or underwater structures.

The body of Chaetodipterus faber is relatively tall (approximately 1.2-1.5 times its length), rounded in shape and very compressed laterally, reaching lengths of up to 50 cm. At the end of its short snout, we find a small terminal mouth, in which its jaws are equipped with numerous bands of small brush-like teeth. The edges of the operculum are finely serrated, and have a blunt tip located at their mid-height. The dorsal fin of Chaetodipterus faber is unique, consisting of 9 spines followed by 21-23 soft rays, with the spiny portion of the fin being lower in height than the soft portion. Within the soft portion of the dorsal fin, the first rays are much longer than the rest, which also occurs in the anal fin. The anal fin is composed of 3 spines and 18-19 soft rays. The pectoral fins, which consist of 17-18 rays, are short and rounded. The pelvic fins are long, extending to the origin of the anal fin in adult specimens, and being somewhat shorter in juveniles. Finally, the caudal fin has an emarginate shape.

As for the coloration of Chaetodipterus faber, the base color is silver-gray in which stand out more or less vertical bands of blackish color in adult specimens. The first band crosses the eye area, starting at the nape of the neck and reaching the chest. The second band begins just before the dorsal fin, crossing the body behind the insertion of the pectoral fins and ending at the abdomen. The third band, like the second, is also incomplete, and runs from the anterior part of the spiny region of the dorsal fin vertically towards the abdomen. The fourth band runs from anterior to the soft rays of the dorsal fin, across the body to the anterior part of the anal fin. The fifth band runs from the middle part of the soft ray region of the dorsal fin to the middle part of the soft ray region of the anal fin. Finally, the sixth and last band is much smaller and runs vertically across the caudal peduncle. In the case of juveniles the coloration is very distinct, being completely dark brown or blackish, with numerous white specks distributed throughout the body. Additionally, the caudal and pectoral fins and the edges of the soft ray regions of the dorsal and anal fins are soft in color.

It is common to observe large concentrations of specimens of Chaetodipterus faber, with up to 500 adult individuals. Juveniles tend to stay in mangrove areas at all times where they find the perfect refuge from possible predators.

The diet of Chaetodipterus faber consists of a multitude of invertebrate species, both benthic and planktonic. This diet is occasionally supplemented with algae.


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