Animal Species:Giant Squirrelfish, Ostichthys japonicus (Cuvier, 1829)
The Giant Squirrelfish can be recognised by a combination of characters that include its red colouration, deep body, large eyes and robust ctenoid scales. The Giant Squirrelfish lives in deep marine waters.
Giant Squirrelfish, Ostichthys japonicus
Photographer: Ian Merrington © Ian Merrington @ DPI Fisheries
Standard Common Name
Japanese Soldierfish, Japanese Squirrelfish
The Giant Squirrelfish can be recognised by a combination of characters that include its red colouration, deep body, large eyes and robust ctenoid scales. It lacks a strong preopercular spine. When viewed from above there is a broad V-shaped gap between the bones of the snout. This is the premaxillary groove.
The species may grow up to 41 cm, but is most commonly approximately 20 cm.
A second species of Ostichthys, O. kaianus is also recorded from Australian waters. It can be separated from O. japonicus by the number of scales along a straight line between the lateral line and the middle of the spiny dorsal fin (2.5 versus 3.5 in O. japonicus). O. kaianus also has an Indo-West Pacific distribution, but in Australia is only known from off the north-west shelf of Western Australia.
The species is known from scattered localities around the Indo-West Pacific. In Australia it is found on the north-west shelf of Western Australian and off central New South Wales to eastern Victoria.
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
The Giant Squirrelfish lives in deep marine waters (90 m to 194 m) and is sometimes caught by anglers and trawlers.
- Gloerfelt-Tarp, T & P.J. Kailola. 1984. Trawled Fishes of southern Indonesia and north-western Australia. Jakarta: Directorate General of Fisheries (Indonesia), German Agency for Technical Cooperation, Australian Development Assistance Bureau. Pp. 406.
- 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.
- Paxton, J.R., D.F. Hoese, G.R. Allen & J.E. Hanley. 1989. Zoological Catalogue of Australia Vol.7 Pisces Petromyzontidae to Carangidae. Canberra: Australian Biological Resources Survey. Pp. i-xii, 1-665.
- Randall, J.E. & D.W. Greenfield. 1999. Holocentridae: Squirrelfishes (soldierfishes). in Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem (eds) FAO species identification guide for Fishery purposes. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Vol. 4. FAO Pp. 2225-2256.
- Randall, J.E., Shimizu, T & T. Yamakawa. 1982. A Revision of the Holocentrid Fish Genus Ostichthys, with Descriptions of Four New Species and a Related New Genus. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology. 29(1): 1-26, pl. 1-2.
Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Tags Fishes, Ichthyology, Giant Squirrelfish, Ostichthys japonicus, Holocentridae, red, deep body, large eyes, robust ctenoid scales, deepsea, marine, Japanese Soldierfish, Japanese Squirrelfish, 10 cm - 30 cm,