Animal Species:Southern Smiler, Opistognathus jacksoniensis Macleay, 1881

The Southern Smiler is a burrow-dwelling species that is only known from Australian waters.

Southern Smiler from North Solitary Island

Justin McKenzie © Justin McKenzie

Standard Common Name

Southern Smiler

Identification

The Southern Smiler is yellowish with irregular brown to black blotches. The head is whitish with a dense network of brown blotches and reticulations. There are orange blotches at the corners of the mouth.

The species has a slender body and large head with huge eyes. The large mouth has small canine teeth in both jaws.

Jawfishes are found worldwide in tropical marine waters. There are about 96 known species in three genera. About one third of these are yet to be named. In Australia, there are 17 named species plus several yet to be described.

Size range

It grows to about 25 cm in length.

Distribution

The Southern Smiler is endemic to Australia, occurring from southern Queensland to the Sydney region of New South Wales.

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.

Opistognathus jacksoniensis

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Southern Smiler specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?

Habitat

It lives on sandy seabeds in inshore and continental shelf waters.  According to Kuiter (2000), the fish is found on "rubble and sand flats near reefs; 20-30 m, but probably deeper as well".

Other behaviours and adaptations

The Southern Smiler is a burrow-dwelling species.

Classification

Species:
jacksoniensis
Genus:
Opistognathus
Family:
Opistognathidae
Order:
Perciformes
Class:
Actinopterygii
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Grant, E.M. 1982. Guide to Fishes. Department of Harbours & Marine. Pp. 896.
  2. 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, Pp. 1-2178.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Southern Smiler, Opistognathus jacksoniensis, Opistognathidae, yellow, brown, orange, black, odd-shaped, 10 cm - 30 cm, complex pattern, soft substrate, marine, adult,

2 comments

Mark McGrouther - 2.08 PM, 06 August 2009
Good question Sascha. According to Kuiter (2000), the fish is found on "rubble and sand flats near reefs; 20-30 m, but probably deeper as well". I'll add this information to the factsheet as well.
Sascha Schulz - 12.08 PM, 06 August 2009
Mark, are these fish found in shallow waters at all. Say at diveable depths?

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