The banded gunnel is a small fish that is so brightly coloured it would seem more
suited to a coral reef than to the frigid waters of the Canadian Arctic. Its body
is slender, elongate, and brilliant scarlet. The base of its dorsal fin has ten
equally spaced dark blotches and there is a horizontal black bar running through
each eye. The name "banded" comes from the lighter violet bands that run vertically
on the sides of its body, from the belly up to the base of the dorsal fin. Its
dorsal fin runs the length of the back, from the top of the head to the base of
the caudal fin. The anal fin starts halfway down the belly and also ends at the
caudal fin. Although both the dorsal and anal fins are attached, the caudal fin
is distinctive. The pectoral fins are somewhat reduced, while the pelvic fins
are vestigial. This fish reaches a length of 24 cm.
The banded gunnel ranges from the northern
Pacific Ocean to Hudson Bay and down the Labrador coast. It has also been found
off the western coasts of Greenland. Little is known of its life history or ecology.