Pearly Jawfish

Opistognathus aurifrons

(6 Reviews)

Pearly Jawfish

Pearly Jawfish

Opistognathus aurifrons

(6 Reviews)

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Pearly Jawfish Care Facts

Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Diet: Carnivore
Reef Safe: Yes
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Max Size: 4 inches
The Pearly Jawfish, Opistognathus aurifrons, also known as the Yellowhead Jawfish, Yellow-Headed Pearly Jawish, and the Yellow Head Jawfish,  features a light-yellow head with a muted blue/green body. The Pearly Jawfish is a hardy species that requires a tank with plenty of live rock and a deep sandy substrate to burrow in (around 5-7 inches). The Pearly Jawfish can sometimes be seen "dancing" up and down in its burrow which makes for a fun fish to watch. It is a mouth-breeder which means it will hold eggs in its mouth. Eating a carnivorous diet, the Pearly Jawfish feeds on mainly brine and mysis shrimp and other meaty preparations. 

Keeping the Pearly Jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons) in Your Saltwater Aquarium

The Pearly Jawfish, scientifically known as Opistognathus aurifrons, is a captivating and unique marine species that can be a rewarding addition to your saltwater aquarium. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide essential information on caring for Pearly Jawfish, covering their habitat, reef compatibility, size, lifespan, dietary needs in captivity, availability through aquaculture, compatibility with other marine species, sexual dimorphism, changes in coloration from juvenile to adult stages, temperament, specific tank requirements, and precise water conditions. We will also list common names for this species and explain why acquiring the Pearly Jawfish from is a wise choice.

Pearly Jawfish Habitat and Natural Range

Pearly Jawfish are native to the Western Atlantic, specifically the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. They are commonly found in shallow, sandy areas, often near the entrances to rocky crevices and small caves. These burrowing fish are known for their diligent maintenance of burrows that they construct in the sandy substrate.

Pearly Jawfish Reef Compatibility

Pearly Jawfish are generally considered reef-safe. Their burrowing behavior primarily affects the substrate, and they do not pose a direct threat to coral or other invertebrates. In fact, they can help aerate and turn over the substrate, which can benefit a reef aquarium's overall health.

Pearly Jawfish Size and Lifespan

Pearly Jawfish typically reach a size of about 4 to 5 inches (10 to 12.5 centimeters) in length. With proper care, they can have a lifespan of 5 to 8 years in captivity, providing long-term enjoyment to aquarium enthusiasts.

Pearly Jawfish Diet in Captivity

Pearly Jawfish are primarily carnivorous in their natural habitat, preying on small invertebrates, zooplankton, and tiny crustaceans. To ensure their health in a saltwater aquarium, it's essential to provide a well-rounded diet that includes:

  • Live or Frozen Foods: The primary components of their diet should be offering live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and other small marine invertebrates.
  • Dry Foods: High-quality marine-based dry foods in pellets or flakes can supplement their diet. However, live or frozen foods should remain their primary source of nutrition.

Pearly Jawfish Aquaculture and Availability

Pearly Jawfish are not commonly aquacultured but are available through reputable suppliers like Acquiring them from trusted sources ensures the specimens have been well-acclimated for aquarium life.

Pearly Jawfish Compatibility with Other Fish and Invertebrates

Pearly Jawfish are generally peaceful and can coexist with various marine species, making them suitable for a community tank. Here are five compatible tank mates to consider:

  1. Firefish (Nemateleotris spp.): Peaceful and visually striking, Firefish can coexist harmoniously with Pearly Jawfish.
  2. Clownfish (Amphiprion spp.): Clownfish and Pearly Jawfish can make great tank mates and are a classic pairing in reef tanks.
  3. Blennies (Ecsenius spp.): Most blenny species are peaceful and suitable for reef tanks.
  4. Gobies (Gobiidae family): Many goby species share a peaceful temperament and are compatible with Pearly Jawfish.
  5. Small Wrasses (Labridae family): Certain species of small wrasses are peaceful and can be kept alongside Pearly Jawfish.

Pearly Jawfish Sexual Dimorphism

Pearly Jawfish do not exhibit significant sexual dimorphism, so distinguishing males from females based on physical characteristics can be challenging.

Pearly Jawfish Juvenile to Adult Coloration Changes

Juvenile Pearly Jawfish often exhibit a striking blue coloration and possess dark vertical bands on their body, which become less pronounced as they mature into adults. As they grow, their coloration becomes more golden and pearly, transitioning into the distinct and mesmerizing appearance that gives them their common name.

Pearly Jawfish Temperament

Pearly Jawfish are known for their peaceful and non-aggressive nature. They tend to focus on burrowing behavior and may not interact significantly with other tank inhabitants.

Pearly Jawfish Tank Requirements

  • Minimum Aquarium Size: A tank with at least 30 gallons capacity is recommended for a single Pearly Jawfish. Larger tanks offer more space and opportunities for additional tank mates.
  • Substrate: Use fine sand as the substrate, as Pearly Jawfish are known for their burrowing behavior and require soft substrate for their burrows.
  • Rock Structures: Incorporate live rock structures in the aquarium. These can provide shelter and hiding spots, which Pearly Jawfish may use as starting points for their burrows.
  • Water Temperature: Maintain a stable water temperature between 75°F and 79°F (24°C to 26°C).
  • pH: Keep the pH level within the range of 8.1 to 8.4 to support optimal biological processes.
  • Salinity: Maintain a stable salinity level between 1.023 and 1.025.
  • Water Flow: Pearly Jawfish prefer low to moderate water flow, as strong currents can hinder their burrowing activities.

Pearly Jawfish Common Names

The Pearly Jawfish is also commonly referred to as the Yellowhead Jawfish.

Why Choose the Pearly Jawfish from

  1. Healthy Specimens: is dedicated to providing customers with robust, healthy Pearly Jawfish well-acclimated to aquarium life.
  2. Reliable Source: By choosing, you ensure the acquisition of responsibly sourced and ethically collected marine species.
  3. Expert Guidance: offers expert guidance and support to help you provide the best possible care for your Pearly Jawfish in your saltwater aquarium.

The Pearly Jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons) is a captivating and unique addition to a saltwater aquarium. Known for their peaceful nature and intriguing burrowing behavior, they can be enjoyed by marine enthusiasts. Acquiring the Pearly Jawfish from guarantees access to healthy specimens and expert guidance to ensure their well-being in your aquarium.

This is 1 of my favorite fish. Love how mischievous it is. However I will not recommend that it is placed in a coral tank unless you don’t mind corals being covered in sand from sand spitting by the jawfish They love burrowing in the sand.

Reviewed by: Esther Hebert on Dec. 24, 2023

Reviewed by: Matt Reese on Sept. 24, 2023

Both my hammer coral and my new Jawfish arrived in great shape,, well packed, and on schedule, just as I expect from SWF. Thank you again!

Reviewed by: Edward Rasmussen on July 27, 2023

One of my favorite fish in my tank! Tons of personality. Fun watching her pop up from her burrow. Very pretty fish

Reviewed by: Ellen Lucas on Aug. 14, 2017

Love, love this goby! It is amusing to watch as it peeks out of its burrow. Real cute!!

Reviewed by: Esther Murphy on Aug. 7, 2017

This little started burrowing right away! Really cute to see him "standing" outside of his hole. He's very curious and industrious. Nice pearly sheen on him too.

Reviewed by: Emily Huang on Feb. 14, 2014

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