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Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Osteichthyes
Classis: Actinopterygii
Subclassis: Neopterygii
Infraclassis: Teleostei
Superordo: Lampridiomorpha
Ordo: Lampridiformes
Familia: Lamprididae
Genera: Lampris - †Megalampris


* Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2006. FishBase, version (02/2006). [1] (as Lampridae)

Vernacular names

Opah (also known colloquially as moonfish, sunfish, kingfish, redfin ocean pan, and Jerusalem haddock) are large, colorful, deep-bodied pelagic Lampriform fish comprising the small family Lampridae (also spelled Lamprididae). There are only two living species in a single genus: Lampris (from the Greek lamprid-, "brilliant" or "clear"). One species is found in tropical to temperate waters of most oceans, while the other is limited to a circumglobal distribution in the Southern Ocean, with the 34th parallel as its northern limit. Two additional species, one in the genus Lampris and the other in the monotypic Megalampris, are only known from fossil remains. The extinct family, Turkmenidae, from the Paleogene of Central Asia, is closely related, though much smaller.

Opah are rarely caught by recreational anglers. They are prized trophies for deep-water anglers as their large size and attractive form lend themselves well to taxidermy. Opah are frequently caught as bycatch in many longline tuna fisheries. Opah is becoming increasingly popular in seafood markets. It first became popular as a sushi and sashimi in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The meat is lightly flavored, delicious and lends itself well to a variety of preparations, principally saute. Opah flesh has a light pink to orange color, but turns white when cooked. It is popular in Hawaii, especially in restaurants. An average of 35 percent of an opah's weight is consumable, with the remaining 65% being bone and thick skin.

Physical description

Opah are deeply keeled, compressed and discoid fish with conspicuous coloration: the body is a deep red-orange grading to rosy on the belly, with white spots covering the flanks. Both the median and paired fins are a bright vermillion . The large eyes stand out as well, ringed with golden yellow. The body is covered in minute cycloid scales and its silvery, iridescent guanine coating is easily abraded.

Opah closely resemble in shape the unrelated butterfish (family Stromateidae). Both have falcate pectoral fins and forked, emarginate caudal fins. Aside from being significantly larger than butterfish, opah have enlarged, falcate pelvic fins—with ca. 14–17 rays, which distinguish opah from superficially similar carangids—positioned thoracically; adult butterfish lack pelvic fins. The pectorals of opah are also inserted (more or less) horizontally rather than vertically. The anterior portion of an opah's single dorsal fin (with ca. 50–55 rays) is greatly elongated, also in a falcate profile similar to the pelvic fins. The anal fin (ca. 34–41 rays) is about as high and as long as the shorter portion of the dorsal fin, and both fins have corresponding grooves into which they can be depressed.

The snout is pointed and the mouth small, toothless and terminal. The lateral line forms a high arch over the pectoral fins before sweeping down to the caudal peduncle. The larger species, Lampris guttatus, may reach a total length of 2 metres (6.6 ft) and a weight of 270 kilograms (600 lb). The lesser-known Lampris immaculatus reaches a recorded total length of just 1.1 metres (3.6 ft).

Life history

Almost nothing is known of opah biology and ecology. They are presumed to live out their entire lives in the open ocean, at mesopelagic depths of ca. 50–500 metres, with possible forays into the bathypelagic zone. They are apparently solitary but are known to school with tuna and other scombrids. Opah propel themselves via a lift-based labriform mode of swimming; that is, by flapping their pectoral fins. This, together with their forked caudal fins and depressible median fins, indicates that opah—like tuna—maintain themselves at constantly high speeds.

Squid and euphausiids (krill) make up the bulk of the opah diet; small fish are also taken. Pop-up archival transmitting (PAT) tagging operations have indicated that (aside from humans) large pelagic sharks, such as great white sharks and mako sharks, are primary predators of opah. The tetraphyllidean tapeworm Pelichnibothrium speciosum has been found in L. guttatus, which may be an intermediate or paratenic host (Scholz et al. 1998).

The planktonic larvae of opah initially resemble those of certain ribbonfishes (Trachipteridae), but are distinguished by the former's lack of dorsal and pelvic fin ornamentation. The slender hatchlings later undergo a marked and rapid transformation from a slender to deep-bodied form; this transformation is complete by 10.6 millimetres standard length in Lampris guttatus. Opah are believed to have a low population resilience.

Species and range

* Lampris guttatus (Brünnich, 1788) [Opah] — from the Grand Banks to Argentina in the Western Atlantic; from Norway and Greenland to Senegal and south to Angola (also in the Mediterranean) in the Eastern Atlantic; from the Gulf of Alaska to southern California in the Eastern Pacific; in temperate waters of the Indian Ocean; and rare forays into the Southern Ocean.
* Lampris immaculatus Gilchrist, 1904 [Southern opah] — confined to the Southern Ocean from the 34th parallel south to the Antarctic Polar Front
* Lampris zatima, also known as "Diatomœca zatima," a very small, extinct species from the late Miocene of what is now Southern California. Known primarily from fragments, and the occasional headless specimens.[2]
* Megalampris keyesi, an extinct species estimated to be about 4 meters in length. Fossil remains date back to the Late Oligocene of what is now New Zealand, and is the first fossil lampridiform found in the Southern Hemisphere.[3]

In popular culture

On one episode of the Food Network show Iron Chef America, opah was chosen as the secret ingredient. A clip from this battle provided a memorable moment when Iron Chef Mario Batali jokingly danced with a whole opah en route to his station in the beginning of the program.


1. ^ Sepkoski, Jack (2002). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera". Bulletins of American Paleontology 364: p.560. http://strata.ummp.lsa.umich.edu/jack/showgenera.php?taxon=611&rank=class. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
2. ^ David, Lore Rose. January 10, 1943. Miocene Fishes of Southern California The Society
3. ^ Gottfried, Michael D., Fordyce, R. Ewan, Rust, Seabourne. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. "Megalampris Keyesi, A giant Moonfish (Teleostei, Lampridiformes), from the late Oligocene of New Zealand" Article: pp. 544–551 [1]

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Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License