Sunfish mola-mola - world's heaviest bony fish
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Sunfish mola-mola - world's heaviest bony fish

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Molas, also commonly called ocean sunfishes, are a small family of oceanic fishes with an unusual body shape.
The rear of the body appears to be cut off, with the caudal fin reduced to a leathery flap or pseudocaudal (clavus). Mouth tiny; teeth united and beaklike. Fins without spiny rays. 

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First dorsal fin opposite anal fin, far back; used for locomotion. Pelvic fins absent. Skin leathery and thick. Gill openings small, in front of pectorals. No lateral line. No swim bladder
Sunfish, or mola, develop their truncated, bullet-like shape because the back fin which they are born with simply never grows.
Instead, it folds into itself as the enormous creature matures, creating a rounded rudder called a clavus. Mola in Latin means "millstone" and describes the ocean sunfish’s somewhat circular shape.

They are a silvery color and have a rough skin texture.
The species is native to tropical and temperate waters around the globe. It resembles a fish head with a tail, and its main body is flattened laterally.
Sunfish can be as tall as they are long when their dorsal and ventral fins are extended.
The mola are the heaviest of all the bony fish, with large specimens reaching 14 feet (4.2 meters) vertically and 10 feet (3.1 meters) horizontally and weighing nearly 5,000 pounds (2,268 kilograms).
Sharks and rays can be heavier, but they're cartilaginous fish.
The mature ocean sunfish has an average length of 1.8 m (5.9 ft), a fin-to-fin length of 2.5 m (8.2 ft) and an average weight of 1,000 kg (2,200 lb).


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The caudal fin (tail) of the sunfish disappeared, to be replaced by a lumpy pseudo-tail, the clavus. This structure is formed by the convergence of the dorsal and anal fins.
The skin, which contains large amounts of reticulated collagen, can be up to 3 in (7.6 cm) thick on the ventral surface, and is covered by denticles and a layer of mucus instead of scales.
The skin on the clavus is smoother than that on the body, where it can be as rough as sandpaper.

Ocean sunfish are native to the temperate and tropical waters of every ocean in the world and appear to vary widely between the Atlantic and Pacific.
Although early research suggested that sunfish moved around mainly by drifting with ocean currents, individuals have been recorded swimming 26 km in a day, at a top speed of 3.2 km/h.
Sunfish are pelagic and swim at depths of up to 600 m (2,000 ft). Contrary to the general perception that sunfish spend much of their time basking at the surface.
Research suggests that adult M. mola actually spend a large portion of their lives submerged at depths greater than 200 m (660 ft), occupying both the epipelagic and mesopelagic zones.
Sunfish are most often found in water warmer than 10 °C (50 °F); prolonged periods spent in water at temperatures of 12 °C (54 °F) or lower can lead to disorientation and eventual death.

Sunfish live on a diet that consists mainly of jellyfish, but because this diet is nutritionally poor, they consume large amounts in order to develop and maintain their great bulk.
Females of the species can produce more eggs than any other known vertebrate.Sunfish fry resemble miniature pufferfish, with large pectoral fins, a tail fin and body spines uncharacteristic of adult sunfish.


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Mode                             - dioecism
Fertilization                    - external
Spawning frequency    - one clear seasonal peak per year

Sunfishes are amazingly fecund fishes.Produces very numerous and small eggs; 300 million tiny buoyant eggs found in a 1.5 m long female.Fertilization occurs when eggs and sperm are shed into the water.
Oocytes in the ovaries develop in different stages suggesting Mola mola as a multiple spawner.This is the largest clutch estimate for this species.

Interesting facts
• The heaviest known bony fish in the world. It has an average adult weight of 1,000 kg (2,200 lb).
• The caudal fin (tail) of the sunfish disappeared, to be replaced by a lumpy pseudo-tail, the clavus. This structure is formed by the convergence of the dorsal and anal fins.
• Its teeth are fused into a beak-like structure, and pharyngeal teeth located in the throat.
• Ocean sunfish often swim near the surface, and their protruding dorsal fins are sometimes mistaken for those of sharks.
• Molas may contain the same toxin as puffers and porcupine fish.
• Ocean sunfish can become so infested with skin parasites, they will often invite small fish or even birds to feast on the pesky critters.







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