Animal Species:Whiskered Prowfish, Neopataecus waterhousii, (Castelnau, 1872)
The Whiskered Prowfish is a rarely observed species that closely resembles the Red Indian Fish, Pataecus fronto.
Standard Common Name
The Whiskered Prowfish is a highly compressed species that has a very narrow caudal peduncle. It has a single dorsal fin that originates in front of the eyes. The colouration of this fish is variable. It can be brown or orange with white or pink blotches or red lines.
The distinctive "whiskers" or chin warts that bestow the species its common name are also the best way to identify the species. Its close relative, the Red Indian Fish has similar, but much smaller whiskers. The two species can also be distinguished by positions of the dorsal and caudal fins, which are joined in the Red Indianfish and separate in the Whiskered Prowfish.
It grows to about 19 cm in length.
The Whiskered Prowfish is is endemic to Australia, occurring in South Australia and southern Western Australia.
The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.
Distribution by collection data
The Whiskered Prowfish is uncommon. It is occasionally seen in floating seaweed and sometimes in crayfish pots. Steve Dreezer (see photos) reports that this species is found in sponge gardens, among sponges that closely match its colouration.
- Gomon, M.F., Bray, D. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 2008. The Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Reed New Holland. Pp. 928.
- 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.
- Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Tags fishes, ichthyology, Whiskered Prowfish, Neopataecus waterhousii, Pataecidae, compressed body, single dorsal fin, variable colouration, brown, orange, white blotches, pink blotches, red lines, blotches/mottled, whiskers, 10 cm - 30 cm, endemic to Australia, uncommon, sponge gardens, marine,