Haswell's Spiny Flathead, Hoplichthys haswelli Click to enlarge image
A Deepsea Flathead, Hoplichthys haswelli, from the Australian Museum Fish Collection. Image: Cate. Lowe
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    haswelli
    Genus
    Hoplichthys
    Family
    Hoplichthyidae
    Order
    Scorpaeniformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 43 cm in length.

Introduction

The Deepsea Flathead can be recognised by its very large flattened head. The species occurs on soft substrates in continental shelf and continental slope depths between 200 m and 1500 m.

Identification

The Deepsea Flathead can be recognised by its very large flattened head and the scutes along the sides of the body. There are four strong spines on the sides of the head with smaller spines between. The body is pinkish yellow above and pale below.

The species can be separated from four other species of Hoplichthys (H.citrinus, H.filamentosus, H.ogilbyi and H. regani) that occur in Australian waters by its large size, wide interorbital space, vomer with two posterior extensions and no elongated dorsal fin spines. It looks similar to the flatheads (family Platycephalidae) but can easily be distinguished by the row of scutes along both sides of the body.



Habitat

The Deepsea Flathead is a benthic species that occurs on soft substrates in continental shelf and continental slope depths between 200 m and 1500 m.

Distribution

The species occurs in Australia and New Zealand. In Australia it is known from southern Queensland to eastern Western 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.



Economic impacts

The species is reputedly good eating but is not retained in commercial catches due to the small amount of edible muscle even from large individuals.

References

  1. Gomon, M.F., Bray, D. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 2008. The Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Reed New Holland. Pp. 928.
  2. McGrouther, M.A.. 1999. Hoplichthyidae. Ghost flatheads (spiny flatheads). Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem (ed). pp 2422-2524, 4 figs In The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Vol. 4. FAO species identification guide for Fishery purposes. FAO.