Rainbow Cale, Heteroscarus acroptilus Click to enlarge image
A male Rainbow Cale at a depth of 9 m, Gordon's Bay, Sydney, New South Wales, February 2003. Image: Erik Schlögl
© Erik Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    acroptilus
    Genus
    Heteroscarus
    Subfamily
    Odacinae
    Family
    Labridae
    Order
    Perciformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 30 cm in length.

Introduction

Rainbow Cales are usually seen on weed-covered rocky reefs. The species occurs in temperate waters around the southern half of Australia.



Identification

Adult male Rainbow Cale can be recognised by the elongate first dorsal fin spines and distinctive colouration. They have blue lines on the head and dark blotches on the sides of the body.

Females and juveniles are yellow or green to reddish-brown with dark markings on the sides of the body.

The Rainbow Cale is a member of the subfamily Ocacinae. One of the distinguishing features of odacid fishes is that the teeth in both jaws are fused into a parrot-like beak with serrated edges.


Rainbow Cale, Heteroscarus acroptilus
Rainbow Cales at a depth of 8.5 m, 'The Steps', Kurnell, Sydney, New South Wales, 16th August 2013. Image: Michael Jones
© Michael Jones

Habitat

The Rainbow Cale occurs in kelp beds from a few metres in depth down to around 25 m.

Distribution

It is recorded from the central coast of New South Wales, around the temperate south of the country and north to the central coast of Western Australia.

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



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. Gomon, M.F. & J.R. Paxton. 1985. A revision of the Odacidae, a temperate Australian-New Zealand labroid fish family. Indo-Pacific Fishes. 8: 1-57.
  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. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  5. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.