Southern Peacock Sole, Pardachirus hedleyi Click to enlarge image
A Southern Peacock Sole partially covered with sand, at a depth of 15 m, Magic Point, Sydney, New South Wales, November 2002. Image: Erik Schlögl
© Erik Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    hedleyi
    Genus
    Pardachirus
    Family
    Soleidae
    Order
    Pleuronectiformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The Southern Peacock Sole grows to 15 cm in length.

Introduction

The Southern Peacock Sole can change its colour quickly to match the surrounding seabed. The species is endemic to Australia.

Identification

The Southern Peacock Sole can be recognised by its colouration. The dorsal surface has dark-edged white blotches and scattered darker blotches. It has a highly compressed body that is covered with small ctenoid scales. There are toxin glands, visible as pores along the dorsal and anal fin bases. The eyes are positioned close together on the right side of the body. The lower eye is positioned immediately behind the mouth. The nostrils of the ocular side are positioned at the end of a long tube. There is a fringe of filaments on the snout.

The Southern Peacock Sole was described by past Australian Museum Fish Curator James Ogilby.

Distribution

This fish is endemic to Australia. It occurs in shallow sandy areas in coastal waters from southern Queensland to southern New South Wales.

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.



Toxin glands of a Southern Peacock Sole

A section of the anterior region of the anal fin of a Southern Peacock Sole, Pardachirus hedleyi, showing the fin rays (fr), toxin glands (tg) and pores (p).  The head end of the fish is to the left of the image. The toxin glands are normally not visible. The fish in the image is in the process of being cleared and stained, a process during which an enzyme, trypsin, is used to clear the flesh of the fish, and stains are used to colour the bones and cartilage.


Toxin glands of a Southern Peacock Sole

A section of the anterior region of the anal fin of a Southern Peacock Sole showing the fin rays (fr), toxin glands (tg) and pore (p).

Image: Dr Tony Gill
© Dr Tony Gill

Some of the soles are known for their ability to release a toxin from glands at the bases of the dorsal and anal fin rays. The toxin is a predator repellant.  Helfman et. al. (2009) state that "The Red Sea Moses Sole, Pardachirus marmoratus, exudes a toxin, pardatoxin, reported to be a natural shark repellant".


Other behaviours and adaptations

The species can change its colour quickly to match the surrounding seabed.

References

  1. 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.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  4. Helfman, G.S., Collette, B.B., Facey, D.E. and B.W. Bowen. 2009. The diversity of fishes: biology, evolution and ecology. 2nd edn. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester. Pp. 720.