PORT PHILLIP BAY


Toothy Flathead 

Platycephalus aurimaculatus Knapp, 1987

View scientific description and taxonomy

Scientific Details

Meristics.
Dorsal fin spines/rays: IX; 14
Anal fin spines/rays: 13-15
Caudal fin rays: 15
Pectoral fin rays: 16-20
Ventral fin spines/rays: I, 5
Lateral line: 81-85

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.

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
Subgenus:
Neoplatycephalus
Species:
aurimaculatus

General Description

Head with low, mostly smooth ridges, corner of gill cover with 2 strong spines, lower slightly longer than upper; large canines on tip of upper jaw. Sandy greyish brown above with many small yellow to orange spots and scattered larger white spots, sometimes darker blotches posteriorly, pale below; caudal fin pale with distinct bands to irregular yellowish spots; pectoral and ventral fins with large yellowish blotches. To at least 55 cm.

Biology

These flatheads are trawled commercially and occasionally caught by anglers. Their fin spines are venomous.

Habitat

Soft bottoms in bays and along the coast, in depths of 10-160 m.

Soft substrates

Distribution guide

South-eastern Australia, including western and central Victoria.

Species Group

Fishes Flatheads

Depth

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

Water Column

On or near sea floor

Max Size

55 cm

Diet

Carnivore

Harmful

Venomous spines can inflict mild to severe pain.

Commercial Species

No

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, Toothy Flathead, Platycephalus aurimaculatus, in Taxonomic Toolkit for marine life of Port Phillip Bay, Museum Victoria, accessed 18 Aug 2017, http://portphillipmarinelife.net.au:8098/species/6506

Text: creative commons cc by licence