PORT PHILLIP BAY


Sixspine Leatherjacket 

Meuschenia freycineti (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824)

View scientific description and taxonomy

Scientific Details

Meristics.
Dorsal fin spines/rays: II; 32-38
Anal fin spines/rays: 31-36
Caudal fin rays: 12
Pectoral fin rays: 11-14
Vertebrae: 20

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.
The Tetraodontiformes is a very diverse and specialized group of bony fishes that share the loss, reduction or fusion of many bony structures in the head and body. Fins and their supporting elements are reduced or lost, and vertebrae are reduced in number. They have small mouths with modified teeth that may be enlarged or fused into a beak-like structure, or incorporated into the jaw bones. The gill opening is reduced to a small slit near the pectoral-fin base, and most have thick skin, covered in scales that are modified into spines, ossicles or fused bony plates. Some groups are poisonous, and the puffers and porcupinefishes are highly inflatable. Puffers adn their allies are found worldwide in temperate and tropical seas, and a few species enter freshwaters.

Family level detail.
Members of the Family Monacanthidae are small to moderate sized mostly deep-bodied, compressed fishes with oval to circular bodies, tough leathery skin covered in rough spines, a prominent depressible spine over the eye that can locked in an upright position by a tiny second dorsal-fin spine. They also have a small mouth and gill slit, and long-based soft dorsal and anal fins. Pelvic fins are either absent, or reduced to a bony element fused to the rear of the pelvic bone.

Taxonomy

Phylum:
Chordata
Subphylum:
Craniata
Superclass:
Gnathostomata
Class:
Actinopterygii
Order:
Tetraodontiformes
Family:
Monacanthidae
Genus:
Meuschenia
Species:
freycineti

General Description

Body long, moderately deep, compressed; tail base with two to four pairs of curved spines on each side, males with larges spines than females; two separate dorsal fins, the first a prominent spine with serrations along the rear edges, followed by a tiny second spine, enabling the large spine to be locked erect or depressed into a shallow groove along the back. Males and females are sexually dimorphic and the colour pattern is highly variable throughout their range. Males usually bluish, with fine angled blue lines and spots on the head, distinct lines along the bases of the dorsal and anal fins, and often a large yellow or orange patch, or indistinct yellowy blotches on the sides. Females and juveniles usually pale greenish, yellow or brown, with blue lines and spots on the head and several broad dark stripes along the body. Both males and females have a distinct dark crescent-shaped band near the hind margin of the tail. To 55 cm.

Biology

Feeds on a range of benthic invertebrates.

Habitat

On shallow reefs in bays, harbours and along the coast in depths to 145 m; juveniles in sheltered areas, especially seagrass beds.

Reefs

Seagrass meadows

Distribution guide

Southern Australia.

Species Group

Fishes Leatherjackets

Depth

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

Water Column

On or near sea floor

Max Size

55 cm

Diet

Carnivore

Harmful

Large dorsal spine could punture skin.

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, Sixspine Leatherjacket, Meuschenia freycineti, in Taxonomic Toolkit for marine life of Port Phillip Bay, Museum Victoria, accessed 27 Jun 2017, http://portphillipmarinelife.net.au:8098/species/7745

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