Inshore lizardfish

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Inshore Lizardfish
Fish4494 - Flickr - NOAA Photo Library.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Aulopiformes
Family: Synodontidae
Genus: Synodus
Species: S. foetens
Binomial name
Synodus foetens
(Linnaeus, 1766)


The inshore lizardfish, Synodus foetens, is a member of the family Synodontidae (Russell et al. 2015). The body of this species is elongated, similar to a cigar-shape (Harry 2016). The inshore lizardfish has a maximum length recorded of about 50cm but generally we see them at about 40 cm long. Their lifespan can be up to nine years (Russell et al. 2015). The maximum weight has been seen as 900 grams (Russell et al. 2015). Females are generally larger than males when mature (Harry 2016). The shape of the mouth of this species is large and pointed. The snout is pointed. The top jaw extends beyond the eye. There are a lot of slender teeth present in the roof of the mouth and jaws. The lateral line is considered to be well marked (Robins et al. 1986). The lateral line encompasses around 60 scales along the length (Harry 2016). The inshore lizardfish has zero dorsal spines, 10-13 dorsal soft rays, zero anal spines, 11-13 anal soft rays, and 56-62 vertebrae (Robins et al. 1986). The color of the dorsal side of the lizardfish ranges from various shades of brown to olive. The belly side ranges from white to yellow. Juveniles have dark spots, these spots are reduced/absent in adults. The sides of the inshore lizardfish have patches that are diamond shaped (Harry 2016). These patches vary in occurrence and intensity, they usually fade with growth and usually occur at the mid-lateral line on the fish (Robins et al. 1986). The dorsal fin can be seen at the center of the back. An adipose fin is present in this species, usually showing a darker spot (Harry 2016). The adipose fin is small in size with the base of the fin being no longer than the diameter of the pupil (Robins et al. 1986). The anal fin is usually equal in length or longer than the dorsal fin (Harry 2016).


Synodus foetens is a predator that ambushes prey. The diet of the inshore lizardfish consists of various fish and small invertebrates (Russell et al. 2015). They include: shrimp, crabs, and cephalopods (Harry 2016).


The habitat for the inshore lizardfish includes the bottom in shallow inshore marine waters, usually over sand or mud bottoms. The range of these areas include creeks, rivers, among seagrasses, estuaries, bays, and lagoons. (Russell et al. 2015). Adults have been found to be also in the open sea above continental shelves (Harry 2016).

Reproduction and Life Cycle[edit]

The inshore lizardfish has separate sexes, male and females. Fertilization has been observed to be external. They spawn all throughout the year. They do not guard their eggs because the eggs are scattered in the water. Since their spherical shaped eggs are scattered in the water, they fall into plants and rocks (Harry 2016).


The inshore lizardfish is widely distributed. This fish can be found over soft-bottom inshore areas, especially in the northern Gulf of Mexico (Russell et al. 2015). Russel et al. has described its distribution to also include “in the western Atlantic from New Jersey south along the U.S. coast, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and in the Caribbean from Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and St. Martin” (2015).

Importance to Humans[edit]

This species is often captured during shrimp trawls. This occurs in the northern Gulf of Mexico. There is a high fishing mortality from trawl bycatch for this species (Russell et al. 2015). However, they are usually just discarded after being caught because they have little to none commercial value (Russell et al. 2015).


Synodus, Greek, syn, symphysis meaning grown together. Odus, Greek, meaning teeth (Robins et al. 1986).


Harry, Shivrani. "Synodus foetens (Inshore Lizardfish)." The Online Guide to the Animals of Trinidad and Tobago . UWI , 2016. Web. 30 Apr. 2017.

Robins, C.R. and G.C. Ray, 1986. A field guide to Atlantic coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 354 p. (Ref. 7251)

Russell, B., Polanco Fernandez, A., Moore, J. & McEachran, J.D. 2015. Synodus foetens. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T16441698A16509727. Downloaded on 01 May 2017.