Aquarium Fish

Yellowhead Jawfish

posted: 05/15/12
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Yellowhead Jawfish
Courtesy of Drs. Foster and Smith
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The Yellowhead Jawfish, also known as the Yellow Head Jawfish or Yellow-headed Pearly Jawfish, has a yellow head and a light blue-green body. It inhabits the sandy, rubble-strewn areas on the reefs of the tropical Western Atlantic, and is found in close proximity to its burrow or cave. The Yellowhead Jawfish can attain a length of 5 inches in the wild, and up to 4 inches in an aquarium.

The Yellowhead Jawfish is moderately hardy. It tends to be shy and is best kept with other docile fish. It will not bother other tank inhabitants, but other burrowing fish may bully it. It needs to be kept on 5-7 inches of fine soft substrate such as sand of various particle sizes (not fine). Known for being a jumper when startled or frightened, the tank should have a tight-fitting lid. This fish will spend much of its time in its burrow and when it does venture out, if it is startled, it will bolt back into its burrow tail first with lightning speed. As long as the tank is large enough, several can be kept in the same tank. Multiple specimens provide very interesting behavior as they "dance" up and down in the burrow. Supply various size rocks among the soft substrate to help reinforce the burrows against them; rockpiles are ideal.

Although other jawfish may exhibit color variations during breeding, the Yellowhead Jawfish does not. One differentiating characteristic is that since it is a mouth breeder, the male will hold the eggs in his mouth.

The Yellowhead Jawfish is typically a shy feeder, eating very small live foods that wander near its burrow in the wild. In the tank, it can be enticed with small pieces of mussel, daphnia, brine shrimp, bloodworms, or other meaty foods. Eventually, prepared foods can be offered. Feeding must be done near the burrow.

Fish Facts

Name: Yellowhead Jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons) Family: Opistognathidae Range: Western Atlantic, Caribbean Size: Up to 4 inches Diet: Carnivore Tank Set-up: Marine: Coral or rock, plants, sand Reef Compatible: Yes Tank Conditions: 72-82°F; sg 1.021-1.023; pH 8.1-8.4 Minimum Tank Capacity: 30 gallon Light: Medium Temperament: Peaceful Swimming Level: Bottom Care Level: Moderate Reproduction: Mouth Breeder

Name: Yellowhead Jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons)

Family: Opistognathidae

Range: Western Atlantic, Caribbean

Size: Up to 4 inches

Diet: Carnivore

Tank Set-up: Marine: Coral or rock, plants, sand

Reef Compatible: Yes

Tank Conditions: 72-82°F; sg 1.021-1.023; pH 8.1-8.4

Minimum Tank Capacity: 30 gallon

Light: Medium

Temperament: Peaceful

Swimming Level: Bottom

Care Level: Moderate

Reproduction: Mouth Breeder

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