Attains a total length (including tail fin) of about 6 in (15 cm). The head and body are greatly compressed and vertically elongated, shaped like a flattened diamond. The body, cheeks, and operculum are covered with vertically elongated scales. The mouth is small and the maxilla, which has two or three ridges, is bound to the ascending processes of the premaxillae and loosely connected to the palatines. The jaws have one or two rows of minute, slender teeth; the vomer has a few minute, slender teeth. There are two dorsal fins, the first with five spines and the second with 27-30 unbranched soft rays. The anal fin has two spines and 27-29 unbranched rays. The tail fin has 13 branched rays, and the pelvic fins have one spine and six branched rays. There is a row of 29 small spines along each side of the dorsal fin and 26-27 small spines along the anal fin base. Juveniles have a greatly elongated (two or three times the length of the fish) first anal fin spine and second dorsal fin spine. The body is silvery with scattered, round black spots; the rear margin of tail fin is dusky.
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