The most common name for the lizard fish is “sea snapper”. But the name has long been changed to “lizard fish” or simply “sea snake” in many instances. In North American waters, the common name is “ray deuce”. These fish can grow up to six inches in length and are commonly seen in waters from the Pacific Northwest to central Mexico.
The Synodontidae or true lizard fish are benthic, estuary and marine bony fish, which belong to the alumina fish family, a very complex and diversified group of aquatic bony fish including some 15 presently well known and some not so well known genera. They inhabit temperate and tropical marine waters all over the globe. It is a remarkable fact that these beautiful creatures are adapted in such a way as to be capable of effective camouflage in the reef tank. This ability has resulted in the preservation of numerous species that have died off through over fishing and over population.
The average length of this species is seven centimeters but specimens have been known to reach ten centimeters in length. They are generally distributed across the Indo Pacific regions from Australia to Hawaii. The most probable reason for their preservation is that they are a crucial food source for a variety of endangered marine species. The lizard fish is the only member of the teleost fish family that is capable of eating koi, tunas and other large predatory fish.
Unlike most members of their genus, the Australian snakehead has evolved into a completely different form. Its coloration and habits are totally different from its relatives. Its natural prey is now generally limited to birds, cats, frogs and other reptiles. It generally feeds on small mammals including mice and rabbits. However, it has recently been seen eating large numbers of carrion that could not be considered as a suitable meal by Australian snakes.
This species generally prefer live prey but will take preys of other forms of vegetation if it is abundant. Its general descriptions indicate that it is a small fish with triangular mouth. Its body has a lot of bright colors that allow it to blend well in its environment. Its head is broad, long and bushy. It has two powerful pincers that enable it to grasp and strangle its prey.
Like most lizards, this species also uses color to enhance its camouflage. It is widely found in green environments and can be seen in natural pools as well as in brackish and saltwater areas in lakes and rivers. Its distinctive color pattern has evolved through the process of natural selection. The most striking feature is its dorsal fin that is colored black with green specks in the middle.
In Australia, this species is an inhabitant of lakes and rivers and can be observed in many streams, creeks and even placements where oxygen and food are abundantly available. It is a good indicator that it should be noted that it prefers clear and cold waters where there is no turbid or murky water. Its natural habitat is usually found in limestone slopes that slope into fresh waters that flow into the ocean. In this regard, it is believed that they feed on small fish and invertebrates in these waters.
Its slow movement and remarkable camouflage make it a formidable predator that feeds on small fish and birds that wander into its feeding areas. Its ability to blend into its surroundings makes it a difficult target that is why crocodiles and turtles often attack it when they become close to it. In fact, reports indicate that even a great size tiger shark cannot get within ten feet of this highly specialized reptile. Reptiles and Crocodiles have been known to actively hunt this species of lizard fish. It is important to note that while crocodiles and turtles are able to effectively take down this animal, it is not their preferred hunting method.