Animal Species:Fringe-eye Flathead, Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus (Gunther, 1860)

The Fringe-eye Flathead can be distinguished from other species of flatheads by the presence of six to nine skin tentacles above both eyes. The species occurs in tropical waters of the Western Pacific.

Fringe-eye Flathead, Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus

Fringe-eye Flathead, Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus
Photographer: Ian Banks © Ian Banks

Standard Common Name

Fringe-eye Flathead

Alternative Name/s

Rock Flathead, Sammy Dong


The Fringe-eye Flathead can be distinguished from other species of flatheads by the presence of six to nine skin tentacles above both eyes. The iris lappets are semicircular with long branches. There is a deep pit behind the eyes. The species is usually dark grey-green above and pale below. There is a broad brown band under the eyes and seven to eight dusky bars across the nape and back. The fins have a variegated pattern of brown and green with yellow marbling.

Size range

The species grows to 58 cm in length and 6.55 kg in weight.


The Fringe-eye Flathead is occurs in tropical waters of the Western Pacific. In Australia, it is known from estuarine and inshore waters from the central coast of Western Australia, around the tropical north of the country and south to the central coast of New South Wales.

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

Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Fringe-eye Flathead specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


The Fringe-eye Flathead is a benthic species that is usually found on sandy and muddy seabeds in coastal and offshore tropical waters.



What does this mean?


  1. Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 201.
  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, pages 1-2178.
  3. Knapp, L.W. 1999. Family Platycephalidae . 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.
  4. Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J, & G.G. Leyland. 1985. Continental Shelf Fishes of northern and north-western Australia. An illustrated Guide. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research. Pp. 375.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags Fishes, Ichthyology, Fringe-eye Flathead, Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus, Platycephalidae, tentacles above both eyes, tropical water, Rock Flathead, Sammy Dong, dark grey-green, pale underside, stripes or bands, 30 cm - 1 m, inshore water, estuarine water, sandy bottom, muddy seabed, coastal water, offshore tropical water, marine,