Smalltooth Dragonfish, Pachystomias microdon (Günther 1878)

Other Names: Small-toothed Dragonfish

An illustration of a Smalltooth Dragonfish, Pachystomias microdon. Source: After Morrow & Gibbs, in Bigelow et al. 1964. License: All rights reserved

A velvety black dragonfish with a large curved reddish photophore under of the eye, a slender chin barbel, and the floor of the mouth present with the mandibles connected by a membrane. 

The Smalltooth Dragonfish, along with species in the genera Malacosteus and Aristostomias, produce long-wavelength bioluminescence, a feature unique amongst vertebrates. It is assumed that they shine this red light on prey that are unable to see long-wave spectra. Unlike all other deep-sea fishes, they have retinal pigments tuned to their own red light - like having "night-vision".

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Pachystomias microdon in Fishes of Australia, accessed 04 Dec 2022,

Smalltooth Dragonfish, Pachystomias microdon (Günther 1878)


Kenaley, C.P., DeVaney, S.C. & Fjeran, T.T. 2014. The complex evolutionary history of seeing red: molecular phylogeny and the evolution of an adaptive visual system in deep-sea dragonfishes (Stomiiformes: Stomiidae). Evolution 68: 996–1013. doi: 10.1111/evo.12322

Kenaley. C.P. & Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Stomiidae. In: Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney: New Holland Press.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37109029

Biology:Able to produce and see red light

Depth:660-4000 m

Max Size:22 cm SL

Max Size:Mesopelagic, bathypelagic

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