Animal Species:Bluespotted Flathead, Platycephalus caeruleopunctatus McCulloch, 1922

The temperate marine flatheads can be quite a challenge to identify.  The Bluespotted Flathead usually has scattered blue spots on the back and a distinctive pattern of dark blotches on the tail.

Bluespotted Flathead, Platycephalus caeruleopunctatus

Bluespotted Flathead, Platycephalus caeruleopunctatus
Photographer: John Pogonoski © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Bluespotted Flathead

Alternative Name/s

Eastern Blue-spotted Flathead, Longnose Flathead, Red Spotted Flathead, Sand Flathead


The Bluespotted Flathead can be recognised by its sandy colour, scattered blue spots, and the series of elongated dark blotches on the tail. The blotches become progressively larger towards the bottom of the fin. The lower preopercular spine is distinctly longer than the upper.

Size range

The species grows to 68 cm in length.


The species is officially recorded from southern Queensland to eastern Victoria but may occur as far west as eastern South 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.

Platycephalus caeruleopunctatus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Bluespotted Flathead specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


The Bluespotted Flathead is found on sandy bottoms from shallow coastal bays and estuaries to well offshore.

Feeding and Diet

It eats crustaceans and other fishes.

Economic/social impacts

The Bluespotted Flathead is a commercial trawl species which is marketed in Australia under the name Blue-spotted Flathead.



What does this mean?


  1. Edgar, G.J. 1997. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books. Pp. 544.
  2. Gomon, M.F., Bray, D. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 2008. The Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Reed New Holland. Pp. 928.
  3. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. Crawford House Press. Pp. 437.
  5. Tyler, J.C. 1970. Abnormal fin and vertebral growth structures in Plectognath fishes. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 122(4): 249-271.
  6. Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & R.D. Ward. 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook, an identification guide to domestic species. CSIRO Marine Research. Pp. 461.

Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Bluespotted Flathead, Platycephalus caeruleopunctatus, Platycephalidae, scattered blue spots, dark blotches on the tail, Eastern Blue-spotted Flathead, Longnose Flathead, Red Spotted Flathead, Sand Flathead, sandy colour, blotches/mottled, 30 cm - 1 m, sandy bottom, shallow water, coastal bays, estuaries,