The gracile lizard fish (Saurida gracilis) or gracile saury, as it is sometimes called, is a common fish on the East African coast, usually perched atop reefs with an intimidating smile of protruding teeth.
The gracile lizard fish is an elongated fish with a large mouth and rows of small thin teeth which are exposed when the mouth is closed. The fish has a reddish-brown mottling on the body, as camouflage, and there is a row of dark blotches on the lower sides as well as three blotches on the upper side towards the rear of the body. They grow to approximately 28 centimeters (11″) in length.
Gracile lizard fish are found across the West Indian Ocean and the central Pacific Ocean, at depths between 1 and 12 meters (3-40 feet) mainly on sandy areas near reefs, in shallow estuaries and perched on reef tops.
The gracile lizard fish is very well camouflaged, sometimes partly burying themselves in sand, waiting for its prey to swim near. It is capable of fast short bursts of speed and darts rapidly upwards from its spot on the seafloor in order to catch and seize the unwitting prey with its relatively large jaws. They are known to feed mostly at night. Any small fish that can fit into its mouth is fair game.
Gracile lizard fish are carnivores, but not a lot is known about the fish’s diet, other than it mainly preys on small reef fish. It is assumed that small crustaceans also form part of its diet.
Species: S. gracilis