Western Pigfish, Bodianus vulpinus (Richardson 1850)

Other Names: Blackspot Pigfish, Black-spot Pigfish, Vulpine Pigfish, Western Blackspot Pigfish

Western Pigfish, Bodianus vulpinus. Source: Barry Hutchins / Western Australian Museum. License: All rights reserved

The name Bodianus vulpinus was incorrectly applied to the Foxfish in many early field guides, a pigfish that is probably more prominent in coastal waters of Western Australia. The true Western Pigfish was long thought to be the same as the Eastern Pigfish, but the two are separable by details of the colour pattern.

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon, Bodianus vulpinus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 18 Mar 2018, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/218

Western Pigfish, Bodianus vulpinus (Richardson 1850)

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Occurs in sub-tropical and warm temperate waters off southwestern Australia from about Shark Bay, Western Australia to Ceduna, South Australia.  Lives at depths of at least 100-250 m in areas with sandy bottom and some rock and coral rubble.


Dorsal-fin rays XII, 10; anal-fin rays III, 12; pectoral-fin rays ii, 15; lateral-line scales 30-31.

Head and snout of moderate length, slightly attenuate. Posterior corner of mouth slightly in advance of vertical through anterior extent of orbit.  Upper jaw with second prominent anterior canine about equal to first; 4-6 teeth on dental ridge posterior to anterior canines , originating close behind prominent canines; 1 or 2 large canines at posterior end of jaw.  Lower jaw with first prominent anterior canine smaller than second; teeth on dental ridge in 2 series forming single row; first series larger than second. Scaly basal sheath on dorsal and anal fins.  Posterior tips of dorsal and anal fins rounded to slightly pointed.  Caudal fin truncate in smaller individuals; dorsalmost and ventralmost caudal-fin rays becoming elongate and filamentous, forming distinct dorsal and ventral lobes in larger individuals.  Posterior tip of pelvic fin reaching anus.


Reaches 32 cm SL.


Initial-phase adults peach to pink above, white below, with red horizontal stripe directed posteriorly from eye fading near center of side; horizontally elongate red spot on upper portion of side below rear half of spinous portion of dorsal fin.  Spinous portion of dorsal fin peach to pink, segmented portion yellowish tinged with red.  Anal and caudal fins yellow.  Pectoral and pelvic fins whitish.  Large specimens with large black spot centrally on dorsal fin.

Terminal-phase adults red dorsally, white laterally and ventrally, head abruptly white below level of mouth; dorsal surface of head with two transverse yellow bands connecting eyes, first anteriorly across snout, second dorsally.  Dorsal fin red anteriorly yellow on anterior half of soft rayed portion and transparent posteriorly; large black spot ocellated with blue between sixth to tenth dorsal-fin spines.  Anal fin yellow with white basal margin.  Caudal fin red, suffused with yellow especially on uppermost and lowermost segmented rays.  Pectoral fin reddish dorsally with grey blotch at tip.  Pelvic fin white with yellow leading edge.

Similar Species

The Bodianus vulpinus species complex comprises the western Australian B. vulpinus, the eastern Australian B. unimaculatus, the Japanese B. oxycephalus and the Hawaiian B. bathycapros with non-overlapping distributions. They are separable primarily by colouration.


The name vulpinus is from the feminine Latin noun vulpes, "fox", and inus, "pertaining to", perhaps in reference to the elongate fox-like snout in this species.

Species Citation

Cossyphus vulpinus Richardson, 1850. Notices of Australian fish. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 18: 71.


Martin F. Gomon

Western Pigfish, Bodianus vulpinus (Richardson 1850)


Gomon, Martin F.  2006.   A revision of the labrid fish genus Bodianus with descriptions of eight new species.  Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 30: 1-133.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37384001

Depth:100-250 m

Max Size:32 cm SL

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