Animal Species:Bighead Gurnard Perch, Neosebastes pandus (Richardson, 1842)

The Bighead Gurnard Perch is a common species found in a variety of habitats, from rocky reefs to deep sponge regions.

A Bighead Gurnard Perch at Noarlunga Tyre Reef

A Bighead Gurnard Perch at Noarlunga Tyre Reef
Photographer: David Muirhead © David Muirhead

Standard Common Name

Bighead Gurnard Perch


The Bighead Gurnard Perch has a relatively large, rounded head and slender body.

Colouration is variable from whitish to greenish, blueish or brown. Pigmentation pattern on the caudal fin changes with growth. Young individuals have a vertical black band basally and another distally on the caudal fin. Older fish have small black spots scattered on the fin. The Bighead Gurnard Perch is the only species of Neosebastes that shows this distinct change (black bands to black spots) in the caudal fin colour pattern, although the caudal fin colour pattern of N. thetidis also changes with growth (two narrow bands changes to one broad band).

The Bighead Gurnard Perch can be distinguished from other members of the genus by having the following combination of characters: the underside of the mandible has three distinct pores on each side, the lower opercular spine has a spine arising half way along its length, and the third dorsal fin spine is the longest.

Size range

Size 45 cm.


The species is endemic to Australia. It occurs from South Australia to southern Western Australia.

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

Neosebastes pandus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Bighead Gurnard Perch in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


It inhabits rocky reefs and sandy substrates in shallow (15 m) to deep waters (600 m).



What does this mean?


  1. Motomura, H. 2004. Revision of the scorpionfish genus Neosebastes (Scorpaeniformes: Neosebastidae), with descriptions of five new species. Indo-Pacific Fishes. 37: 1-76, pl. 1-2.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.

Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fish, ichthyology, Bighead Gurnard Perch, Neosebastes pandus, white, green, blue, brown, 'normal fish', 30 cm - 1 m, blotches, countershaded, marine, adult,