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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Red Bandfish Cepola macrophthalma

Very little was known about this strange fish until the 1970s, when divers discovered a population in shallow water around Lundy Island off the west coast of Britain. The red bandfish is shaped like an eel but flattened from side to side, with a long, golden-yellow fin running the length of the body on both sides. In mature males, the fin has a bright blue edge. These fish live in deep mud burrows, emerging just far enough to feed on passing arrow worms and other plankton in the manner of tropical garden eels. They also swim free of their burrows at times. In addition to single burrows, colonies of many thousands of individuals have been discovered. The burrows sometimes connect with those of burrowing crabs, and this may be a deliberate association.

Red Bandfish habitat mapzoom image
  • Order Perciformes
  • Length Up to 30 in (80 cm)
  • Weight Not recorded
  • Depth 50–1,300 ft (15–400 m)
  • Distribution Temperate and subtropical waters of northeastern Atlantic and Mediterranean