Morphology Data of Starksia variabilis
Identification keys
Main Ref. Williams, J.T., 2003
Appearance refers to
Bones in OsteoBase

Sex attributes

Specialized organs
Different appearance
Different colors

Descriptive characteristics of juvenile and adult

Striking features
Body shape lateral elongated
Cross section
Dorsal head profile
Type of eyes
Type of mouth/snout
Position of mouth

Common amongst Labrisomids: small, often elongate fishes; largest species about 20 cm standard length, most under 10 cm standard length. Head usually with cirri or fleshy flaps on anterior nostrils, eyes, and laterally on nape; gill membranes continuous with each other across posteroventral surface of head. Each jaw with an outer row of relatively large, canine-like or incisor-like teeth, often with patches of smaller teeth behind; teeth usually also present on vomer and often on palatines (roof of mouth). Dorsal and anal fins long, frequently highest anteriorly; dorsal-fin spines often flexible, outnumbering segmented dorsal-fin soft rays; 2 usually flexible spines in anal fin; pelvic fins inserted anterior to pectoral-fin bases, with 1 spine not visible externally; all fin rays, including those of caudal, unbranched (simple). Cycloid (smooth to touch) scales present at least posteriorly on body. Species distinguished by: dorsal-fin spines usually 21, and 7 to 37 segmented rays; pelvic fin with 2 externally obvious segmented rays; pectoral-fin rays usually 14; pectoral-fin rays not elongated or filamentous; first anal-fin spine of males longer than second; lateral-line tubes or canals present at least anteriorly on body; scales in lateral-line series usually 35 to 41 (some species with fewer); arched lateral-line scales usually 17 or 18, scales in straight portion of lateral line usually 20 to 22; only 1 or no cirrus on each side of nape; cirrus present on anterior nostril; a simple cirrus present above each eye; belly naked or with less than posterior third scaled. Body coloration: body generally brownish with darker spots, blotches, or broken bars; dark spot, if present at bases of posterior segmented dorsal-fin rays, smaller than 1/2 eye diameter; pair of broad, hypural-shaped dark blotches not present at base of caudal fin; lips with distinct black vertical bars; side of head spotted; side of head with pale area forming a reticulated pattern over preopercle (Ref.52855).

Ease of Identification

Meristic characteristics of Starksia variabilis

Lateral Lines Interrupted: No
Scales on lateral line 35 - 41
Pored lateral line scales
Scales in lateral series
Scale rows above lateral line
Scale rows below lateral line
Scales around caudal peduncle
Gill clefts (sharks/rays only)
Gill rakers
on lower limb
on upper limb


Dorsal fin(s)

Attributes extending over most of the back length
Fins number 1
Finlets No. Dorsal   
Spines total 21 - 21
Soft-rays total 7 - 37
Adipose fin

Caudal fin

Attributes more or less truncate; more or less normal

Anal fin(s)

Fins number 1
Spines total 2 - 2
Soft-rays total

Paired fins

Pectoral Attributes  more or less normal
Soft-rays   14 - 14
Pelvics Attributes  more or less normal
Position    jugular
Spines     1
Soft-rays   2 - 2
Main Ref. (e.g. 9948)
Glossary ( e.g. cephalopods )
Entered by Hilomen, Teresa
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