MEPS 161:295-298 (1997)  -  doi:10.3354/meps161295

Black gut phenomenon in cardinal fishes (Apogonidae, Teleostei)

L. Fishelson1,*, M. Goren1, O. Gon2

1Dept of Zoology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, 69978 Israel
2J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology, PB 1015, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa

A study of 78 species of cardinal fishes (Apogonidae) revealed that 22 of them had black guts, 5 species had partly black guts and, in 51 species, the digestive tube was unpigmented or had dispersed melanophores in the external tunic. The black pigmentation is caused by melanization of the submucosal connective tissue which is situated between the muscularis and the basal lamina of the internal epithelium. This phenomenon was previously observed in moray eels and some pelagic fish. In nocturnal predators, it appears to serve to conceal bioluminescent prey in the stomach cavity.


Apogonids ยท Melanization of guts


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