Pearly/Yellowhead Jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons)
Max Size: 4 inches
Reef Compatible: Yes
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
The Yellowhead Jawfish, also known as the Yellow Head Jawfish or Yellow-headed Pearly Jawfish, exhibits a striking appearance with its yellow head and light blue-green body. Native to the tropical Western Atlantic, it resides in sandy, rubble-strewn areas close to its burrow or cave. In the wild, this jawfish can reach a length of 5 inches, while in captivity, it typically grows up to 4 inches.
Beyond its appealing looks, the Yellowhead Jawfish is known for its charming personality. Playful and curious, it often enjoys observing its human caretakers.
To ensure its well-being, the Yellowhead Jawfish requires a moderately hardy environment. It is best suited to live with other docile fish, as it poses no threat to tank mates. However, it may be susceptible to bullying from other burrowing species. To accommodate its natural behavior, a substrate of fine soft sand, including particles of various sizes, should be provided, reaching a depth of 5-7 inches. Due to its tendency to jump when startled, a tank with a tight-fitting lid is necessary. The Yellowhead Jawfish spends much of its time in its burrow, and if startled, it darts back into its refuge tail-first with impressive speed. Keeping multiple specimens in a sufficiently large tank allows for fascinating interactions, as they "dance" up and down within their burrows, reinforcing them with various-sized rocks strategically placed among the soft substrate.
While some jawfish may display color variations during breeding, the Yellowhead Jawfish does not. One unique trait is its role as a mouth brooder, with the male holding the eggs in his mouth.
Feeding the Yellowhead Jawfish can be a bit challenging as it is typically a shy eater, preferring very small live foods that come near its burrow in the wild. In captivity, it can be enticed with small portions of mussel, daphnia, brine shrimp, bloodworms, or other meaty offerings. Over time, it may adapt to prepared foods. To encourage successful feeding, offering food near its burrow is crucial.