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Photoblepharon palpebratum

(Eyelight Fish)


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Family : Lanterneye fishes ; Occurs along seaward reefs near or along steep drop-offs with caves[1]. In some areas it may approach the surface[1]. Usually feeds in large groups away from the reefs at night. Well hidden in caves during the day and rarely seen. Usually observed at night[2].

Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Danish:

Lille Lanterne, Lille Lanterneøjefisk

Common Names in English:

Eyelight Fish, Eyed Sole, Flashlightfish, Lanterneye Fish, Luminos Fish, One fin flashlight fish, One fin flashlightfish, One-Fin Flashlight Fish, One-Fin Flashlightfish, Onefin Flashlightfish, Small Flashlighfish

Common Names in French:

Soldat Anglais

Common Names in Malay:

Leweri Batu


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Physical Description

Species Photoblepharon palpebratum

Eyelightfish have a blunt snout, a large upturned mouth , a deeply forked caudal fin , and a light-emitting organ, called a photophore, under each eye. The lateral line arches over the pectoral fins, and each scale has a prominent white or blue spot.

These fish are dark purplish-gray in color, with heads darker than their bodies. A bluish-white area behind the head extends onto the base of the pectoral fins, which are black. The other fins are usually a dark purplish-brown.

Size and Weight : This species can reach a length of 12 cm (4.7 in). Females are larger than males.

The bioluminescent photophores contain billions of symbiotic light-emitting bacteria, that produce a bright, lime-green light by generating chemicals similar to those used in commercially produced light-sticks. This is an example of a mutalistic relationship—the fish benefit from the bacteria providing them with light and the bacteria benefit by getting nutrients and oxygen from the fishes’ blood, as well as a safe home .


Eyelightfish prefer the seaward sides of tropical reefs that have caves and are near steep drop-offs at depths of 10-50+ m 7-25 m (33-164+ ft ).

Biome: Saltwater . Reef-associated .


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They are nocturnal , staying well-hidden during the day and emerging at night to feed on zooplankton , which are attracted to the light from the photophores. They also eat the smaller fishes that come to share the zooplankton. Normally, these flashlightfish feed in currents just out from the reef wall. On dark, moonless nights, they also feed near the surface of the water.


Little is known about the reproduction of these fish except that sexes are separate, pelagic (open ocean) spawning takes place, and eggs are fertilized externally.


Eyelightfish have a large, bean-shaped, light organ (called a photophore) below each eye. While the light is produced constantly, the fish turn the light “on and off” by raising and lowering a membrane (similar to an eyelid ), that veils the photophore. While the fish usually blink 2-3 times per minute, when facing danger, they can flash their light up to 50-70 times per minute.

The blinking of these light organs is used to communicate with fellow eyelightfish, to assist in schooling and mating, and to attract prey . Predators are confused by the use of a “blink and run” strategy, in which the fish rapidly swim in one direction with their lights “on”, then switch directions and swim with the lights “off”.- somewhat like turning a flashlight on and off.


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Photoblepharon palpebratus (Boddaert • Photoblepharon palpebratus palpebratus (Boddaert • Photoblepheron palpebratus (Boddaert • Sparus palpebratus Boddaert


Name Status: Accepted Name .

Comment: Photoblepharon is neuter . Needs another reference .

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Photoblepharon

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 3 species and subspecies in this genus:

P. palpebratum (Eyelight Fish) · P. palpebratus steinitzi (Flashlight Fish) · P. steinitzi (Flashlight Fish)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal March 02, 2008:



  1. Lieske, E. and R. Myers (1994). Collins Pocket Guide. Coral reef fishes. Indo-Pacific & Caribbean including the Red Sea. Haper Collins Publishers, 400 p. [back]
  2. Kuiter, R. H. and Tonozuka (2001). Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 1. Eels- Snappers, Muraenidae - Lutjanidae. Zoonetics, Australia. 302 p. [back]
Last Revised: 2014-11-20