Animal Species:Celebes Flathead, Thysanophrys celebica (Bleeker, 1854)

As the common name suggests, these fish are distinguished by their flattened head shape and are close relatives of scorpionfishes (scorpaenidae). They are seldom noticed due to their protective colouration and habit of burying themselves in the sand.

A Celebes Flathead at Flores, Indonesia

A Celebes Flathead at Flores, Indonesia
Photographer: Rudie Kuiter © Rudie Kuiter

Standard Common Name

Celebes Flathead


The Celebes Flathead has an elongate body and a moderately depressed head. Its iris lappets have short branches. The species is brown to greenish above and pale below. The back may be crossed by four or five dark bars. There are dark spots on the pectoral and pelvic fins and a distinct dark bar under the eye.

Size range

It grows to at least 15 cm in length.


The species is found in the Indo-West Pacific and from northern to southern Queensland in Australia.

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.

Thysanophrys celebica

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Celebes Flathead specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


The Celebes Flathead is a benthic species that occurs in tropical inshore and coral reef waters. It is usually seen on sandy substrates.



What does this mean?


  1. Knapp, L.W. in Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem. 1999. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 4. Bony fishes part 2 (Mugilidae to Carangidae). FAO. Rome Pp. iii-v, 2069-2790.
  2. Michael, S.W. 1998. Reef Fishes. Volume 1. A Guide to Their Identification, Behaviour, and Captive Care. Microcosm. Pp. 624.

Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fish, ichthyology, Celebes Flathead, Thysanophrys celebica, sandy bottom, flattened head, protective colouration, elongate, brown, green, pale underside, dark bars, dots/spots, 10 cm - 30 cm, benthic, tropical water, inshore water, coral reef, sandy substrates,