Reaches about 3.9 in (10 cm) total length over most of range, largest individual observed from North America about 5.5 in (14 cm). Two dorsal fins, pelvic fins separated, and rounded caudal fin. Torpedo-like body shape with flattened head. Tan to dark brown, sometimes changes to dark trunk laterally with light tan dorsum, especially in juveniles. May have rows of small dark spots on sides. Two dark streaks radiating rearward from eyes on cheeks. A large dark spot on the upper pectoral fin base and some specimens with two elongate spots extending from pectoral fin base onto pectoral fin rays. Stout spine on lower cheek faces forward.
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