Animal Species:Cockatoo Waspfish, Ablabys taenianotus (Cuvier, 1829)
The Cockatoo Waspfish is usually observed at dusk and on night dives as they stay hidden during daylight hours.They are usually observed on sand in the vacinity of rocky reefs and sea grass beds feeding on small shrimps and other crustaceans.
Standard Common Name
The Cockatoo Waspfish has also been called the Cockatoo Fish and Leaf Fish.
The Cockatoo Waspfish can be recognised by its long sail-like dorsal fin which originates above the eyes.
The fish is usually brown with a distinct white stripe along the leading edge of the dorsal fin and down the snout to the upper jaw. Adults may have a scribbled pattern of dark lines and blotches on the dorsal fin.
The Cockatoo Waspfish grows to 15 cm in length.
The species occurs in tropical and some temperate waters of the Eastern Indian and Western Pacific Oceans.
In Australia it is known from the central coast of Western Australia, around the tropical north of the country and south to the New South Wales central coast.
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 a benthic species that is found on coral reefs and in sheltered estuaries and bays down to depths of about 20 m.
Danger to humans and first aid
Even though they are quite small in size, the species is sonsidered dangerous to humans to to their venomous spines.
- Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. Crawford House Press. Pp. 437.
- Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.
Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Tags fish, ichthyology, Cockatoo Waspfish, Ablabys taenianotus, weed, seaweed, seagrass, kelp, ecklonia, Cockatoo Fish, Leaf Fish, sail-like dorsal fin, brown, white stripe, stripes or bands, blotches/mottled, 10 cm - 30 cm, tropical water, temperate water, benthic, coral reef, sheltered estuaries, dangerous, venomous,