Donate Take Action

Join us


Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Reef Lizardfish Synodus variegatus

The reef lizardfish habitually perches on the tops of rocks and corals, propped up on its long pelvic fins. From such vantage points, it keeps a lookout for passing shoals of fish, darting out and seizing one with its rows of sharp teeth. Its large mouth allows it to swallow quite big fish (as shown in the photograph). A variable blotchy brown and red coloration camouflages the reef lizardfish, hiding it from larger predators. It can also bury itself in patches of sand, leaving only its head and eyes showing. Confident of its disguise, this fish will remain completely still and allow divers to approach to within a few inches before darting away to a new perch. It is caught and eaten by reef fishermen.

Reef Lizardfishzoom image
  • Order Aulopiformes
  • Length 8–16 in (20–40 cm)
  • Weight Not recorded
  • Depth 16–295 ft (5–90 m)
  • Distribution Tropical reefs in Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and western Pacific
Reef Lizardfish habitat mapzoom image