PORT PHILLIP BAY


Old Wife 

Enoplosus armatus (White, 1790)

View scientific description and taxonomy

Scientific Details

Meristics.
Dorsal fin spines/rays: VIII; I, 14-15
Anal fin spines/rays: III, 14-15
Caudal fin rays: 17
Pectoral fin rays: 13-14
Ventral fin spines/rays: I, 5
Lateral line: 55-60

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 large and highly diverse group of modern bony fishes many of which have a generalized perch like body form. Most have pelvic fins with one spine and 5 rays and the maxillary bone is excluded from the gape of the mouth. Interrelationships of the group are poorly understood and continue to be studied. They inhabit almost all aquatic habitats from high-altitude strams to the deep sea, although most are marine.

Family level detail.
Family with a single endemic species.

Taxonomy

Phylum:
Chordata
Subphylum:
Craniata
Superclass:
Gnathostomata
Class:
Actinopterygii
Order:
Perciformes
Family:
Enoplosidae
Genus:
Enoplosus
Species:
armatus

General Description

Body deep, very compressed; head concave, snout short, pointed; dorsal and anal fins high anteriorly, first dorsal distinctly separate from the second; pelvic fins large, prominent. Body silvery-white to cream, with 6-8 dark brown to black vertical bands of varying widths, the widest and most prominent bands extending from spinous dorsal-fin to pelvic fin, and from tip of second dorsal fin through beginning of soft anal-fin rays respectively. Pale part of fins may be pinkish. To 30 cm.

Biology

The name "Old Wife" comes from the grinding or grating noise made by the fish when captured. These fishes are widespread and common throughout their range, and found in pairs, or more commonly in large schools. Old wives sometimes set up cleaning stations to remove parasites from other fishes. They are the only species in the Family Enoplosidae.

Habitat

On rocky reefs, and around jetties and pier piles in bays, harbours and in sheltered areas along the coast; juveniles often shelter in seagrass beds, in depths of 0-85 m.

Reefs

Seagrass meadows

Distribution guide

Southern Australia.

Species Group

Fishes Old wives

Depth

Shore (0-1 m)
Shallow (1-30 m)
Deep ( > 30 m)

Water Column

On or near sea floor Midwater

Max Size

30 cm

Diet

Carnivore

Harmful

Venomous fin spines and can inflict a painful sting.

Commercial Species

No

Global Dispersal

Native to Australia

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, Old Wife, Enoplosus armatus, in Taxonomic Toolkit for marine life of Port Phillip Bay, Museum Victoria, accessed 19 Aug 2017, http://portphillipmarinelife.net.au:8098/species/7989

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