Animal Species:Smooth Flutemouth, Fistularia commersonii Rüppell, 1838

The Smooth flutemouth is a very elongate fish that has a long filament projecting from the caudal fin. It occurs widely throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Standard Common Name

Smooth Flutemouth


The Smooth flutemouth is a very elongate fish that has a long filament projecting from the caudal fin. The filament is lined with sensory pores, and may serve as a long-range sensory system for detecting prey.

The species is usually greenish with blue wavy lines.

Two species of flutemouths are recorded from Australian waters, the Smooth Flutemouth and the Rough Flutemouth, F. petimba. The species can be differentiated by bony plates along the dorsal midline that are present in F. petimba but absent in F. commersonii and two ridges on the top of the snout that are parallel in F. petimba but bulge centrally in F. commersonii.

Size range

It grows to 1.6 m in length.


The Smooth Flutemouth has a wide Indo-Pacific distribution. In Australia it is recorded from the south-western coast of Western Australia, around the north of the country and south to the central New South Wales coast.  It is a widely distributed species occuring in the Indo-Pacific and Eastern Pacific.  The video, below, shows a fish that was filmed during an Australian Museum expedition to Southern French Polynesia.

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

Fistularia commersonii

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Australian Smooth Flutemouth specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


The species is found on coastal reefs and in seagrass beds.



What does this mean?


  1. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and their Relatives. A Comprehensive Guide to Syngnathiformes. TMC Publishing Pp. 240.
  4. Orr, J.W. & T.W. Pietsch, 1998. Pipefishes and their Allies. in Paxton, J.R. & W.N. Eschmeyer (Eds). 1998. Encyclopedia of Fishes (ed. 2). San Diego: Academic Press. Pp. 240.
  5. Paxton, J.R., D.F. Hoese, G.R. Allen & J.E. Hanley. 1989. Zoological Catalogue of Australia Vol.7 Pisces Petromyzontidae to Carangidae. Canberra: Australian Biological Resources Survey. Pp. i-xii, 1-665.

Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Smooth Flutemouth, Fistularia commersonii, Fistulariidae, elongate, long filament, long and skinny, green, blue wavy lines, > 1m, coastal reef, seagrass beds, marine,