Animal Species:Slender Weed Whiting, Siphonognathus attenuatus (Ogilby, 1897)

The Slender Weed Whiting is a small species that lives over sandy areas adjacent to seagrass and algae.

Slender Weed Whiting at Normanville Beach

Slender Weed Whiting at Normanville Beach
Photographer: David Muirhead © David Muirhead

Standard Common Name

Slender Weed Whiting

Alternative Name/s

Short-nose Weed Whiting, Short-snouted Pencil Weed Whiting, Slender Rock Whiting


The species can be recognised by its colouration.  It is brown above, white below and has a dark brown stripe along the side of the body. There is a prominent white-ringed black spot on the caudal fin.

In most recent publications, the Slender Weed Whiting, along with the other odacid fishes have been placed in the family Odacidae.  Recent work of Clements et al (2004) proposed that the family Odacidae be considered as a subfamily (the Odacinae) within the Labridae (the wrasses).

Size range

14 cm TL


The Slender Weed Whiting is endemic to Australia.  It occurs from southern Victoria and Tasmania to south-western 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.

Siphonognathus attenuatus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Slender Weed Whiting specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?


It lives over sandy areas adjacent to seagrass or rocky reefs, usually at depths of 1 m to 20 m (see comment below from David Muirhead).

Other behaviours and adaptations

On a number of occasions, South Australian diver David Muirhead has observed Slender Weed Whitings staying motionless at night in a vertical position, with the head pointing downward. David reported that on one occasion he was surprised to observe a Slender Weed Whiting drifting at night over an expanse of featureless white sand in a vertical position, but with the head pointing upward not downward.



What does this mean?


  1. Clements, K.D., Alfaro, M.E., Fessler, J.L. & M.W. Westneat. 2004.  Relationships of the temperate Australasian labrid fish tribe Odacini (Perciformes; Teleostei). Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution. 32: 575-587.
  2. Gomon, M.F., Bray, D. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 2008. The Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Reed New Holland. Pp. 928.
  3. 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.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Slender Weed Whiting, Siphonognathus attenuatus, Labridae, Odacidae, yellow, white, brown, black, long and skinny, 10 cm - 30 cm, eye like spot, strpes or bands, countershaded, rocky reef, kelp/algae/seagrass, marine, adult,


Mark McGrouther - 8.12 AM, 21 December 2010

Hi David.  Thank you for your comment.  I have updated the depth details.  I appreciate your input.

David Spencer Muirhead - 7.12 PM, 11 December 2010
Slender WW are very common in SA's gulfs(indeed even commoner but much less noticeable than the also very common and similar sized pencil WW) and are easily found year-round at very shallow depths,even under 1 metre at times when searching grassy coastal embayments w snorkel or SCUBA (I see many more slenders at such very shallow sites than pencils,it's worth stating here):so the correct stated usual depth range should roughly match that given by ausmus for the pencil WW ie 1m to 20 m approx.

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