Animal Species:Little Gurnard Perch, Maxillicosta scabriceps Whitley, 1935
The Little Gurnard Perch has a mottled brownish body. It is common in southern Australian inshore waters, usually in seagrass beds, rubbly areas or on sandy substrates.
When alive, the Little Gurnard Perch has a mottled brownish body. There is a large black blotch on dorsal fin membrane between the fifth and ninth spines in both males and females. The colour pattern is similar to that of Whitley's Gurnard Perch and Southern Gurnard Perch.
The species can be distinguished from other Australian species of Maxillicosta by the combination of two characters. The scales above the lateral line behind the head lack a strong median ridge or a serrated ridge. The nasal spine has 2 or 3 small points.
Although several specimens, collected from central Western Australia, have been identified as M. scabriceps, they may represent a new species and M. scabriceps may only occur between Victoria and southeastern Western Australia.
The species grows to 12 cm.
The species is endemic to Australia, occuring in inshore waters from Victoria to central Western Australia, including northern Tasmania.
The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.
Distribution by collection data
It is usually found in seagrass beds, rubbly areas or on sandy substrates at depths from 2 m to 45 m.
Other behaviours and adaptations
Individuals bury completely in the sand during the day, but emerge at night.
- Eschmeyer, W.N. and S.G. Poss. 1976. Review of the scorpionfish genus Maxillicosta (Pisces: Scorpaenidae), with a description of three new species from the Australian-New Zealand region. Bulletin of Marine Science. 26(4): 433-449.
- 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.
Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology