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Phylum Chordata, Class Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)


Actinopterygii  (pronounced ac-tin-op-ter-idge-ee-eye) are the group of animals most people would call a fish. Specifically these are ray-finned fishes because they possess “fin rays”, their fins being webs of skin supported by bony or horny spines on the side of their bodies. There are over 23000 species. Sharks and rays do not belong to this group (see Chondrichthyes).


Acanthaluteres spilomelanurus

Bridled Leatherjacket

Habitat: Sheltered seagrass, reef; 0 – 10 m depth

Distribution: around Tas and from WA to NSW

Maximum Size: Length to 140 mm

Diet: Small invertebrates

Comments: Males of this species have a distinctive bridle-like marking across the head and along the body, with iridescent blue spots.  Juveniles and females tend to be mottled brown, and may be difficult to distinguish from toothbrush leatherjackets.

For more information see http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/787

MDC locations: aquaria


Aldrichetta forsteri

Yellow-eye mullet

Habitat: Sheltered sand, seagrass; 0-20m depth

Distribution: around Tas and from WA to NSW

Maximum Size: length to 500mm

Diet: juveniles feed on plankton, medium size fish feed on benthic crustaceans and molluscs, while larger fish eat algae.

Comments:  this is the most common species of mullet in southern Australia, and is fished commercially.

For more information see http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/4534

MDC locations: aquaria


Aracana aurita

Shaw’s Cowfish

Habitat: sheltered and moderately exposed reef and seagrass; 0-200m depth

Distribution: around Tasmania and from WA to NSW

Size: length to 250mm

Diet: small invertebrates

Comments:  The cowfish is given its box-like shape by the series of rigid triangular plates covering its body.  They often find food by blowing a jet of water from their mouth to uncover prey from beneath the sediment.  Pictured to the left are the male of the species (top) and the female (bottom) showing the distinctive colour and pattern of each.

For more information see http://bie.ala.org.au/species/Aracana+aurita



MDC locations: aquaria


Conger verreauxi

Southern Conger eel

Habitat: Sheltered and moderately exposed reef

Depth: 0-80m

Size: to 2m in length

Diet: small to medium sized fish

Distribution: around Tas and from SA to eastern Vic

Comments: Conger eels remain hidden in caves during daylight hours, emerging at night to feed. This species of eel has a long dorsal fin which starts just above the tip of the pectoral fin and runs to the end of the tail. Whilst not usually aggressive, conger eels will defend themselves if caught on lines or in cray pots.

For more information see http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3442

MDC locations: viewing pool


Diodon nicthemerus

Globe fish, porcupine fish, pufferfish

Habitat: sheltered and moderately exposed reefs and sand; 0-50m depth

Distribution:  found around Tasmania and from NSW to WA

Comments: This slow swimming fish has a dark grey back, white belly and dark blotches on its sides.  It is distinguished by the yellow spines covering its body.  The globe fish can inflate its body with water or air if threatened, causing it to become lodged in the throat of a would-be predator.  Like other members of the Diodontidae family, the flesh is poisonous if eaten.  This fish may grow to 30cm in length.

For more information see http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/921

MDC locations: aquaria


Forsterygion varium

Many-rayed threefin

Habitat: Sheltered reef, 0-10 m

Distribution: Eastern Tasmania, also New Zealand

Maximum size: 150mm in length

Comments:  Generally living concealed on shallow reefs, this species is abundant on the east coast of Tasmania, particularly in the Derwent Estuary and d’Entrecasteaux Channel, but is found nowhere else in Australia.  Males of the species are brighter than females and have bluish tips to their fins.

For more information see http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/22

MDC locations: aquaria


Heteroclinus perspicillatus

Common weedfish

Habitat: Sheltered reef, seagrass; 0-10m depth

Distribution: all around Tas and southern Australia

Maximum Size: length to 200mm

Diet: Small shellfish, shrimps

Comment: The common weedfish is the most abundant of this family, and is distinguished from other weedfish by the shape of the tentacles below its mouth, the arrangement of spines and rays along its dorsal fin and the pattern on its body.  Typically, this fish has a blackish brown spot beneath the first dorsal fin and rows of tiny reddish spots along its fins.

For more information see http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/6

MDC locations: aquaria


Hippocampus abdominalis

Big Bellied Seahorse

Habitat: Sheltered and moderately exposed reef; 0 – 12 m depth

Distribution:  SA to NSW, and around Tasmania

Maximum Size: Length to 250 mm

Diet: Mysids (small shrimps)

Comments: This species of seahorse is commonly found around Tasmania. Seahorses are unique because the males have the babies. That is, the male incubates the eggs in his brood pouch until they are ready to hatch. Seahorses are under threat due to large numbers being dried and exported to Asia for use as aphrodisiacs. For this reason, the animals in our tank were purchased from a seahorse breeding company rather than taken from the wild.

For more information see http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3332

MDC locations: aquaria


Kuiterichthys furcipilis

d’Entrecasteaux anglerfish

Habitat: muddy bottom,     10-40m depth

Distribution: only known in D’Entrecasteaux Channel

Maximum Size: Length to 10cm

Diet: crustaceans and polychaete worms

Comments: Anglerfish are specialised bottom dwellers, using their modified pectoral fins to crawl on the sea floor, and are closely related to handfish.  The first dorsal spine is modified into a ‘lure’ to attract prey.  Anglerfish possess a pore-like gill opening near the base of their pectoral fins.

For more information http://bie.ala.org.au/species/Kuiterichthys+furcipilis

MDC locations: aquaria


Latris lineata

Stripey trumpeter

Habitat:  Exposed reef

Depth: 0-300m

Size: to 1.2m in length

Diet: small invertebrates and fish

Distribution:  Around Tasmania and from Albany WA to NSW

Comments: Once common in shallow waters around Tasmania, stripey trumpeter are now almost exclusively found in deep water due to heavy fishing.  Stripey trumpeter can attain up to 25kg in weight.  The individuals in our pond were donated by the Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute.

For more information see http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/685

MDC locations: aquaria


Neoodax balteatus

Little Rock Whiting

Habitat: Sheltered and moderately exposed seagrass, reef; 0 – 20 m

Distribution: around Tasmania and from Fremantle WA to Sydney NSW

Comments: Juveniles and females have a dark stripe along the side, a brown upper body and a pale belly. The less numerous males have deeper, reddish brown bodies, blue trim to the fins and blue stripes along the head. Little rock whiting grow to 140mm.

For more information http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/299

MDC locations: aquaria


Notolabrus tetricus

Blue-throated Wrasse, Kelpie

Habitat: reef

Depth: 1-160m

Size: Length to 500mm

Diet: small invertebrates

Distribution: around Tasmania and from SA to NSW

Comments: This is the most common species of wrasse on Tasmanian reefs.  Juveniles are green or brown in colour but as they mature into females, these fish gain a black stripe followed by a white stripe across the body.  Large females transform into males and develop a rounded bluish head and yellow pectoral and pelvic fins.

For more information see http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/257

MDC locations: viewing pool


Parablennius tasmanianus

Tasmanian Blenny

Habitat: Rocky reef, sponge beds; 0-10m depth

Distribution: around Tas and from SA to NSW

Size: length to 130mm

Diet: small invertebrates and algae

Comments: Recognisable by its small size and long fringed tentacles over the eye, the Tasmanian Blenny makes its home in small rock crevices, shells or discarded bottles cans.  During spawning season females guard clusters of eggs, which are attached to the sides of their nests.   Females have a light coloured body with dark bands and spots (top picture), while the males are darker in colour (bottom picture).  Blennies do not have scales.

For more information see http://bie.ala.org.au/species/Parablennius+tasmanianus#

MDC locations: aquaria


Platycephalus bassensis

Sand Flathead

Habitat: Sheltered sand, silt

Depth: 0-100m

Size: Length to 460mm

Diet: Fish, crabs, shrimp and squid

Distribution: around Tasmania and from WA to NSW

Comments: This species of flathead is the most commonly caught around Tasmania.  Flathead lie on the seafloor, camouflaged against the sand to surprise passing prey.  The various flathead species have different arrangements of spots, blotches and lines on their tails. They have dorsal spines running the length of their body. Flathead reach their approximate maximum size at 16 years, and at this age can weigh over 2kg.

For more information see http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3356

MDC locations: viewing pond


Pseudophycis bachus

Red cod

Habitat: Sheltered and moderately exposed sand, silt, reef

Depth: 0-375m

Size: to 800mm

Diet: Small invertebrates such as shrimp

Distribution: around Tasmania and from SA to Vic; also NZ

Comment: The red cod shows a prominent barb under the chin and has a dark blotch on either side of the body near the base of the pectoral fins. They have a pinkish-orange colouration under the throat. This species tends to be active only after nightfall.

For more information see http://bie.ala.org.au/species/Pseudophycis+bachus

MDC locations: viewing pool


Rhombosolea tapirina

Greenback flounder

Habitat: Sheltered sand, 0-100m depth

Distribution: around Tas and from WA to NSW; also NZ

Maximum Size: length to 450mm

Diet: polychaete worms and other bottom dwelling invertebrates

Comments:  Juveniles of this species are often found on sand flats in water less than 1m deep, while the adults are usually in deeper water.  This species of flounder usually captures prey by digging in the sand.

For more information see http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/994

MDC locations: aquaria


Solegnathus spinosissimus

Spiny Pipehorse

Habitat: sand, silt; 3-400mdepth

Distribution: around Tasmania and also Vic, NSW and NZ

Size: length to 470mm

Diet: small invertebrates such as mysids

Comments:  A member of the Syngnathid family (also includes seahorses, seadragons and pipefish) pipehorses carry  their eggs under the tail. This species is pinky-orange and has a distinctive red spot near its anus.

For more information see http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1472

MDC locations: aquaria


Stigmatopora nigra

Wide-bodied Pipefish

Habitat: sheltered seagrass, algae; 0-35m depth

Distribution: around Tasmania and from WA to Qld, also NZ

Size: length to 160mm

Diet: small invertebrates

Comments:  Belonging to the same family of fishes as the seahorse and seadragon, pipefish are slow moving fish found living in large numbers among seagrass beds.  Whilst normally very thin in shape, the wide-bodied pipefish is so called due to the swelling of the female’s trunk during breeding season.

For more information see http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/4039

MDC locations: aquaria


Trachinops caudimaculatus

Southern Hulafish, blotched-tailed trachinops

Habitat: sheltered and moderately exposed reefs; 1-35m

Distribution:  found around Tasmania and from the Investigator Group SA to Wilsons Promontory VIC. Comments: Easily distinguishable from other fish of this genus by the black spot at the base of its tail.  This species is found in large numbers on Tasmania reefs and grows to 100mm in length.

For more information see http://bie.ala.org.au/species/Trachinops+caudimaculatus

MDC locations: aquaria