Animal Species:Painted Grinner, Trachinocephalus trachinus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1846)

The Painted Grinner can be recognised by its long slender body and large mouth bristling with teeth.  The colouration of the species is also distinctive.

Painted Grinner in Sydney Harbour

Painted Grinner in Sydney Harbour
Photographer: Rudie Kuiter © Rudie Kuiter

Standard Common Name

Painted Grinner

Alternative Name/s

Painted Lizardfish, Bluntnose Lizardfish, Painted Saury, Snakefish


The Painted Grinner has blue and yellow stripes or dashes along the sides of the body and a dark, oblique mark above the operculum.

It has a very short snout and an oblique mouth with numerous fine, sharp teeth. There is a short-based first dorsal fin, followed by a small adipose dorsal fin and a deeply forked caudal fin.

The species has been listed as Trachinocephalus myops in many publications.  That species is not found in Australia and is now considered a separate Atlantic species.

Size range

The species grows to about 30 cm in length.


The species has been recorded from tropical and subtropical waters around the northern coastline of Australia from north-western Western Australia to southern 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.

Trachinocephalus myops

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Painted Grinner specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


The Painted Grinner lives in shallow estuaries down to deep offshore waters in excess of 200 m. It is rarely seen because it often buries itself in the bottom sediment with only its eyes exposed.



What does this mean?


  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. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  5. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House. Pp.557.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Synodontidae, Painted Grinner, Trachinocephalus myops, long and skinny, large mouth, Painted Lizardfish, Bluntnose Lizardfish, Painted Saury, Snakefish, stripes or bands, short snout, oblique mouth, 30 cm - 1 m, tropical water, subtropical water, shallow estuaries, offshore water, Trachinocephalus trachinus,