Yellowhead Jawfish

Opistognathus aurifrons   ~   Family Opistognathidae

Eight spicies of Jawfish inhabit the South Florida region’s waters. The Yellowhead Jawfish is by far the most commonly sighted in Key Largo.

These pearly, three to four inch fairy-like fish with bluish fins and yellowish heads spend nearly all of their days plucking zooplankton from the current just above their burrow entrances. Yellowhead Jawfish in Key Largo and the Florida Keys are found out in sandy areas well off the main reef in depths under 50 feet.

Family Habits

Yellowhead Jawfish colonies normally consist of two to ten individuals. They reside in burrows they build under ground on the sand aprons encircling coral and rock reefs. Normally all burrows are within one foot of each other. Depth ranges from five feet deep to more than one hundred and fifty feet deep seawater.

Burrow Building

These fish build their burrows near reef structures to insure an abundance of coral, rocks, and shell rubble. These items are essential for the construction of their masterfully built burrows. They will be seen coming out of burrows with mouth full of rubble and are always updated the status of their underground burrow homes.

A new burrow generally takes between eight to twelve hours for a single Yellowhead Jawfish to build.

Nightly habits of Yellowhead Jawfish

In the late afternoon, colony members prepare for the coming night. Loose sand, pebble and shells are brought up in their jaws and blown clear of burrow entrances. Within minutes of sunset the Yellowhead Jawfish will come out of burrow and grab a nearby rock or shell or tuft of algae. It will use this item as a door to fully cover the entrance to it’s burrow as it descends inside for the night.

At sunrise the next morning the Yellowhead jawfish will emerge and begin to tidy up the surrounding area of the burrow. Following this it will begin it’s feeding process for the remainder of the majority of the day.

If you would enjoy getting to see these fish up close and personal, simply click the Book Now box here on this page to sign up for a certified diver tour and request Jennifer to be your guide.

Reef Report:

Average winds for Florida Keys are 10 to 15 knot winds all year.
Average seas tend to be 2 to 2.5 feet and choppy for our area.
Location Visibility
Our average visibility ranges from 25 to 55 feet.
Water Temperature
Water temperature widely changes as the seasons do. January to March we tend to have the coldest water temperature and it can range from 68 F to 75 F. April starts our warming for the spring season and between April and the end of May it ranges between 75 F to 78 F. By June our water reaches 79 F and keep warming clear through August. Our warmest peak in August can reach as high as 90 F and then as September approaches it begins to cool slowly back down.

Yellowhead Jawfish Key Largo

Many of our local reef sites have large sandy areas off the main reef and this is where you will begin your slow search to find these magical little fish.
You must be one hundred percent in control of your buoyancy and fin techniques to see these little fish.
Photo-guided Scuba Dive Tours

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Florida Keys islands are the sub-tropical Caribbean of the USA.






Yellowhead Jawfish Key Largo