Look-alike Juvies


Two weeks ago I saw a stunning juvenile I identified as a juvenile spotted drum.  Then, two days ago I saw a similar exquisite juvenile, and I assumed it, too, was a juvenile spotted drum, but when I looked closely the stripes pattern was different.  So, I rediscovered juvenile spotted drums, juvenile jackknife-fish and juvenile high-hats look very similar; all are remarkably beautiful.


Both fish are very small, maybe three inches or less, even with the streaming fins, and both were in about 27 feet of water on two different Key Largo inshore reefs.

Are my guesses as to ID correct?  Maybe you can give me some hints on how to differentiate among them.

Thank You,Marty 

Try viewing this archived

Try viewing this archived REEF Fishinar for hints on how to tell the juvies apart:



- Janna

Thank You Janna

I went to the archived Drums and Croakers fishinar.  Very interesting, very informative, very well done.  Based on Lavan's instruction I think what I had ID'd as a juvenile jackknife fish is a juvenile high-hat, but I would really appreciate an expert confirmation.  I usually photograph fish from the side, as it shows them off the best.  Unfortunately, in this case profiles do not show the definitive cubbyu nose "U" or the nose spot or the black dot on the nose.  

Can you tell me with certainty what these fish are?  Perhaps, we can forward them to Jonathan Lavan.

Life is all pots and lids; you are a perfect fit as REEF's outreach coordinator.


Visual clues


The first image is of a Highhat (Pareques acuminatus) - look for horizontal line through eye

The second image is the Spotted drum (Pareques punctatus) - look for vertical band across eye, a wide dot or smudge on the tip of the snout and the dark line/band that goes across the body does not go all the way to the tip of the dorsal as compared to the

Jackknife (Equetus lanceolatus) that also has a vertical band across the eye but the dark line/band does go all the way to the tip of the dorsal. On the nose is a distinct short, vertical dash. These fish normally have a yellow tint to the body.

Good luck!


Oh, Carlos, this is perfect.  I copy and pasted your email in a folder I have on fish-identification notes.  I am deeply grateful.

Thank You,


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