Ribbon Fish, the common name of several genera of acanthopterygian fishes of the family toeniidoe. They are characterized by a compressed, elongated, ensiform body, with very small or no scales; the bones are of loose texture; the eyes large, and teeth small or none. To this ribbon-like body is attached a dorsal commencing close to or upon the head, and completely furnished with membrane; the caudal when present is distinct from the perpendicular fins, and in some is set on at a right angle, like a fan extended upward; the ventrals are often wanting, or are placed beneath the pectorals. They are all marine species. - Among the genera having a protractile mouth with a small aperture belongs stylephorus (Shaw), having neither teeth, scales, nor ventrals, and the caudal standing upward, its last ray continuous with the tail and produced into a filament longer than the body. In trachypterus (Gouan) there are a few teeth, thoracic ventrals, a dorsal the whole length of the body, and an erect caudal; the northern ribbon fish or vaagmeer (T. bogmarus, Val.), from the polar seas, attains a length of 3 or 4 ft., sometimes much more; the skin is covered with a silvery envelope like the shining covering of the choroid of the fish's eye, consisting of minute needle-shaped crystals (see "Annals and Magazine of Natural History," vol. iii., London, 1849); it looks like a silvery ribbon in the water; the lateral line is armed with hooked scales.
The T. falx (Cuv.) of the Mediterranean has 168 rays on the dorsal and plumes of rays on the head and tail; the color is brilliant silvery, with large, round, black spots. - In the genus gymnetrus (Bloch) the ventrals are reduced to a single ray, very long and dilated at the end; the caudal is very small and continuous with the dorsal. Of the eight species, the best known is the ribbon fish of the Mediterranean (G. gla-dius, Val.), attaining a length of 6 or 8 ft.; the rays of the dorsal over the head are elongated and curve backward like a crest; the silvery skin is studded with smooth osseous warts, and the fins are rosy red; like all the rest of the family, it is very easily broken; it lives in still deep waters, and is rarely seen except when thrown ashore after storms in a mutilated condition. The G. Hawkenii (Bloch) is occasionally seen on the English coasts, and with its narrow, long, and shining body, and sinuous movements, has been the basis of more than one story of the sea serpent. - In the genera with non-protractile mouth, with large gape and ascending lower jaw, belongs lophotes (Giorna); this has on the head a vertical corneous crest sustaining a strong spine, which is the first dorsal ray; the dorsal extends the whole length of the body and has numerous simple rays, the anal and caudal small, and the ventrals near the pectorals.
The L. Cepedia-nus (Giorna) of the Mediterranean attains a length of more than 4 ft., and is rarely seen. In cepola (Linn.) the body is covered with small scales; there is a single row of teeth in each jaw; the dorsal and anal are very long, and the caudal small. The red ribbon fish (C. rubescens, Linn.) occurs from the Mediterranean to the English coasts; it is about 18 in. long, brilliant red, with indistinct dark bands, and the dorsal saffron yellow bordered with rose.
Ribbon Fish (Gymnetrus Hawkenii).