Ophidiidae: K III A6

Brotula multibarbata Temminck & Schlegel, 1846 & other species.

Bearded brotula


Egg diameter in µm

Number of oil globules

Diameter of oil globule in µm

Yolk texture

Perivitelline space

Position of oil globule at hatch

Gut length   at eye- pigment stage








38% of NL



Egg:. This egg is usually easy to recognise because it is not quite round (but not symmetrically oval), has no pigment on the embryo or oil globule, and has a red sheen to the chorion. The oil globule is clear. Just before hatching some fine black pigment dots may be seen on the embryo. Incubation is about 48 hours.

Larva: The early larva has clear finfolds, which are goose-pimpled (C). Scattered fine black pigment is seen, in a pattern similar to Plate C1. At 6 days big pectorals have a pale yellow edge, there is a loose cluster of black dots across the notochord in mid-tail, and often, a dark patch above this on the edge of the finfold (D, arrowed, best seen in the bottom specimen). When disturbed, the eyed larvae curl the body in a sharp bend at the trunk, while most of the tail remains straight. B: NH, C: 1 day, D: 6 days (23°C).


All attempts to rear this egg were unsuccessful. There may be two (or more) species included here, as sometimes the egg appears more symmetrically oval. The wide size range supports this. Care should be taken not to confuse them with the scorpaenid eggs BLIIIA1 & BLIIIA2, which are regularly oval. Scorpaenid larvae have far fewer myomeres, and the oil globule is astern in the NH larva. Nineteen hatched larvae have been barcoded, 11 of which match the sequence of 1 adult B. multibarbata collected locally. The other 8 larvae, however, indicate 4 further species, all clustered together in the dendrogram, none of which has found a match in BOLD. The odd egg shape may be due to the eggs initially being laid in a gelatinous mass (Mito 1962).


The all-year presence of this egg off Park Rynie supports the possibility of more than one species, although there is a definite summer peak (blue graph). The egg was only seen twice in the DHM samples, in March and July. At Park Rynie, the egg showed an increasing presence until 2004, but has since decreased (white graph). In the Park Rynie linked samples, the eggs were marginally more common offshore (56%), suggesting a species that is spawning inside the 30m contour.  See Section 7.3 and Table 1 of the Introductory Notes, for more information on the linked samples.

Linked samples