Animal Species:Giant Hatchetfish, Argyropelecus gigas Norman, 1930

The common name of the hatchetfishes refers to their distinctive body form. The sharp row of scutes along the belly form the blade of the hatchet and the rear of the fish forms the handle.

Giant Hatchetfish, Argyropelecus gigas

Mark McGrouther © NORFANZ Founding Parties

Standard Common Name

Giant Hatchetfish

Alternative Name/s

Large Hatchetfish, Hatchetfish

Identification

The common name of the hatchetfishes (family Sternoptychidae) comes from their distinctive body form. They are mostly deep-bodied, compressed fishes which have a sharp "blade" along the lower margin of the body and a "handle" formed by the posterior half of the body. One of the distinguishing characters of the genus Argyropelecus is the presence of a bony blade in front of the dorsal fin.

Hatchetfishes are deepsea fishes which have upward-directed eyes and light-producing photophores. Some of the photophores of the Large Hatchetfish in the image are visible as yellowish dots in a row above the anal fin and running along the abdominal margin. In life, this species is brown dorsally and on the sides. The head and ventral areas around the photophores are black, and the photophores are white to grey with a black margin.

Size range

The species grows to 11 cm in length.

Distribution

The Large Hatchetfish has a widespread marine distribution. In Australia the species is recorded from temperate marine waters from the central coast of New South Wales to south-western Western Australia, including Tasmania.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Argyropelecus gigas

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Giant Hatchetfish specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?

Habitat

It is most common in depths between 400 m to 600 m.

Classification

Species:
gigas
Genus:
Argyropelecus
Family:
Sternoptychidae
Order:
Stomiiformes
Class:
Actinopterygii
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  2. Last, P.R., E.O.G. Scott & F.H. Talbot. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority. Pp. 563.
  3. Paxton, J.R. in Gomon, M.F, C.J.M. Glover & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992. Last, P.R, E.O.G. Scott & F.H. Talbot. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority. Pp. 563.
  4. Paxton, J.R., D.F. Hoese, G.R. Allen & J.E. Hanley. 1989. Zoological Catalogue of Australia Vol.7 Pisces Petromyzontidae to Carangidae. Canberra: Australian Biological Resources Survey. pp. i-xii, 1-665.

 


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags Fishes, Ichthyology, Giant Hatchetfish, Argyropelecus gigas, Sternoptychidae, Large Hatchetfish, Hatchetfish, odd-shaped, deep-bodied, deepsea, marine, upward-directed eyes, light-producing photophores, 10 cm - 30 cm, temperate waters,