PORT PHILLIP BAY


Dusky Flathead 

Platycephalus fuscus Cuvier, 1829

View scientific description and taxonomy

Scientific Details

Meristics.
Dorsal fin spines/rays: IX; 13
Anal fin spines/rays: 12-13
Caudal fin rays: 15
Pectoral fin rays: 19-20
Ventral fin spines/rays: I, 5
Lateral line: 95-100

Interpreting fin count meristics.
Spines are in Roman numerals and soft rays are in Arabic numerals. Spines and rays that are continuous in one fin are separated by a comma. Fin sections are separated by semicolons.

Detailed descriptions of fin count and other meristics are in:
Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) (2008) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Order level detail.
A diverse group of bottom-dwelling fishes with a bony ridge, or stay across the cheek connecting the bones under the eye with the gill cover. Most species have spines projecting from bony ridges on the head and some have spines projecting from the gill cover. Many species are well-camouflaged ambush predators, often with elaborate cirri, filaments, leaf-like appendages and spiny ridges enhancing their camouflage. Scales are present or absent. Gurnards (also called searobins) have a pair of rostral spines projecting from the snout, large colourful wing-like pectoral fins and crawl over the bottom on their finger-like pelvic-fin rays. Many species have venomous spines.

Family level detail.
Small to large elongate bottom-dwelling fishes with large flattened heads covered in bony ridges and short spines, two dorsal fins positioned close together, and broad pectoral and pelvic fins. These well-camouflaged ambush predators live on sandy or muddy bottoms in estuaries, bays and coastal waters, often burying themselves in the substrate. Flatheads are fished commercially and recreationally throughout their range, and have venomous spines for protection.

Taxonomy

Phylum:
Chordata
Subphylum:
Craniata
Superclass:
Gnathostomata
Class:
Actinopterygii
Order:
Scorpaeniformes
Family:
Platycephalidae
Genus:
Platycephalus
Species:
fuscus

General Description

Head large, strongly flattened, with prominent ridges, gill cover with two spines at angle, lower slightly larger than upper. Sandy to greyish or almost black above, sometimes with darker bars and pale spots or blotches, pale below. Upper part of tail covered in brown spots, lower half bluish grey, sometimes with a dark blotch in the middle; fin rays with rows of fine brown spots, pectoral fin densely covered in small brown to reddish-brown spots. To 1.2 m.

Biology

A very important recreational and commercial species in eastern Australia. Their fin spines are venomous.

Habitat

Shallow coastal waters, on soft bottoms in estuaries, bays and along the coast to depth of 79 m, although usually above 20 m.

Soft substrates

Distribution guide

Eastern Australia. In eastern Victoria and rarely central Victoria to Port Phillip.

Species Group

Fishes Flatheads

Depth

Shallow (1-30 m)
Deep ( > 30 m)

Water Column

On or near sea floor

Max Size

1.2 m

Diet

Carnivore

Harmful

Venomous spines can inflict mild to severe pain.

Commercial Species

Yes

Global Dispersal

Native to Australia

Identify

Conservation Status

  • DSE Advisory List : Not listed
  • EPBC Act 1999 : Not listed
  • IUCN Red List : Not listed

Author

article author Bray, D.J.

Di Bray is a Senior Collection Manager of ichthyology at Museum Victoria.

Author

article author Gomon, M.F.

Dr. Martin Gomon is a Senior Curator of ichthyology at Museum Victoria.

citation

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Gomon, M.F., 2011, Dusky Flathead, Platycephalus fuscus, in Taxonomic Toolkit for marine life of Port Phillip Bay, Museum Victoria, accessed 23 Oct 2017, http://portphillipmarinelife.net.au:8098/species/4560

Text: creative commons cc by licence