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Bottomfish Identification: Wrymouths and Eels

Dwarf Wrymouth
Cryptacanthodes aleutensis

Caught incidentally in the commercial fishery off the outer Washington coast with otter-trawls.

Description: The dwarf wrymouth is an elongate eel-like fish that lacks scales. The body is pink or red and is mostly uniform in color. This species has long dorsal and anal fins that join at the base of the caudal fin, and lack pelvic fins.  The head is broad and flat on top with the mouth nearly vertical. A long tube extends from the nostril in front of the eye.  The eyes of the dwarf wrymouth point mostly upward.  

Maximum Size: To 30 cm (1 ft) in length.

Maximum Age: Information is lacking for this species.

Range/Habitat: The range and depth distribution of the dwarf wrymouth is not well documented but is thought to be from the Bering Sea to Eureka, California.  This species may live partly buried in the soft bottoms on which it lives in water depths of 46 to 350 m (150-1,150 ft).


  • Eschmeyer, W.N., E.S. Herald and H. Hammann, 1983. A field guide to Pacific coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 336 p.

Photos: J. Selleck