Harlequin Fish, Othos dentex (Cuvier 1828)


Other Names: Chinese Lantern, Harlequin Cod, Harlequin Rock Cod, Tiger Cod

A Harlequin Fish, Othos dentex, in Jurien Bay, Western Australia. Source: Graham Edgar / Reef Life Survey. License: CC BY Attribution

Summary:
A large colourful cod found only in South Australia and Western Australia to the Houtman Abrolhos. Although Harlequin fish historically occurred in Victoria, including in Port Phillip Bay, they are now absent from Victorian waters. 

Harlequin fish vary greatly in colour, ranging from orange, to pinkish, reddish, green or brown, with large yellow, greenish, or brilliant blue spots and dashes, and a large red blotch behind the pectoral-fin base. They also have enormous canine teeth at the front of the jaws that are visible when the mouth is closed. 

Video of a Harlequinfish off Bunbury, Western Australia - about 27 seconds into the video.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Othos dentex in Fishes of Australia, accessed 18 Oct 2018, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/4383

Harlequin Fish, Othos dentex (Cuvier 1828)

More Info


Distribution

An Australian endemic, recorded from Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, to the Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia - although the species has not been seen in Victoria in recent times.

Harlequin fish inhabit exposed coastal reefs, drop-offs and caves in depths to 30 metres, and are active during the daytime. They are a long-lived site-attached species with a relatively small home range.

Features

Meristic features: Dorsal fin X, 18; Anal fin III, 8; Caudal fin 17; Pectoral fin 15; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line 81-87

Body long, moderately slender, head large, dorsal profile slightly convex, hind margin of gill cover with a pointed flap and three spines, eyes on top of head. Mouth large, extending beyond eye, front of jaws with enormous canine teeth visible when mouth closed. 

Colour

Colours highly variable including orange, pink green, brown and red above with a greyish underside, large yellow to green or bright blue spots below, blue dashes or dots on head and upper body, and a large red blotch at pectoral-fin base. 

The large spots on the lower sides are yellow to juveniles and females. As males mature, the spots as males become mature, the spots become green, before finally changing to bright blue. The blue spots and dashes become more prominent in males and intensify in colour during the spawning period.

Feeding

Carnivore - an ambush predator that feeds mostly on small fishes.

Biology

Unlike many species in the Family Serranidae which are hermaphrodites, Harlequin Fish are gonochorists with the sexes separate. French et al. (2014) found that the gonads of each fish examined contained solely ovarian tissue or testicular tissue. Spawning occurs from September to March.
Individuals begin to mature at four years of age, and some do not mature until their 10th year. Females grow slightly larger than males and live to at least 42 years. 

Fisheries

Not targeted by commercial fishers, although taken as by-catch in the temperate Demersal Gillnet and Demersal Longline Fisheries. This species is also taken as by-catch in the West Coast Demersal Scalefish, and in rock lobster pots.
Also targeted by recreational line fishers and spear fishers.

Species Citation

Plectropoma dentex Cuvier, G.L. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1828. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 2: 394. Type locality: King George Sound, WA.

Author

Dianne J. Bray

Harlequin Fish, Othos dentex (Cuvier 1828)

References


  • Baker, J.L. 2012. Marine Species of Conservation Concern in South Australia: Volume 1 - Bony and Cartilaginous Fishes. Report for the South Australian Working Group for Marine Species of Conservation Concern. J. Baker (consultant); Science and Conservation Division, and Coast and Marine Conservation branches of S.A. Department for Environment and Heritage (DEH); Marine and Coastal Community Network of S.A. (MCCN), and Threatened Species Network (TSN).  http://www.reefwatch.asn.au/pages/bin/view/Publications/SamsccHome).
  • Bryars, S. 2010. Monitoring marine fishes of conservation concern on Adelaide's coastal reefs: results of 2009/2010 surveys for the southern blue devil and harlequin fish. Report to the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 29 pp.
  • Bryars, S. 2011. Monitoring marine fishes of conservation concern on Adelaide’s coastal reefs: combined results of 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 surveys for the southern blue devil and harlequin fish. Report to the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 40 pp.
  • Bryars, S., Rogers, P., Huveneers, C., Payne, N. Smith, I. & McDonald, B. 2011. What size do marine park sanctuary zones need to be to protect the Western Blue Groper Achoerodus gouldii, Harlequin Fish Othos dentex, and Bluethroat Wrasse Notolabrus tetricus? Final report to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Wildlife Conservation Fund Project Number 0638. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 36 pp.
  • Bryars, S., Rogers, P. & Miller, D. 2012. Protecting the harlequin fish within South Australia’s new system of marine parks: acoustic tracking to determine site fidelity and movement patterns. Report to the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources Wildlife Conservation Fund Project Number 1455. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Adelaide.
  • Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.
  • Cuvier, G.L. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1828. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 2 490 pp. pls 9-40.
  • Edgar, G.J. 2008. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland 2, 624 pp.
  • French, B., I.C. Potter, S.A. Hesp, P.G. Coulson, & N.G. Hall. 2014. Biology of the harlequin fish Othos dentex (Serranidae), with particular emphasis on sexual pattern and other reproductive characteristics. Journal of Fish Biology 84: 106–132. DOI: 10.1111/jfb.12258
  • Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp.
  • Günther, A. 1861. On a new species of Plectropoma from Australia. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1861: 391-392 pl. 38
  • Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Biodiversity of shallow reef fish assemblages in Western Australia using a rapid censusing technique. Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 247-270
  • Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Checklist of the fishes of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 63: 9-50
  • Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.
  • Kuiter, R.H. 1994. Families Serranidae, Callanthiidae. pp. 528-548 figs 469-485 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.
  • Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to sea fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.
  • Kuiter, R.H. 2004. Basslets, Hamlets and their relatives. A comprehensive guide to selected Serranidae and Plesiopidae. Chorleywood, UK : TMC Publishing 1, 216 pp.
  • May, J.L. & J.G.H. Maxwell, 1986. Trawl fish from temperate waters of Australia. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research, Tasmania. 492 p.
  • Prokop, F. 2002. Australian Fish Guide. Croydon South, Victoria : Australian Fishing Network 256 pp.
  • Roberts, C.D. & Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Polyprionidae, Serranidae and Callanthiidae. pp. 534-549 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.
  • Smallwood, C.B., Hesp, S.A. & Beckley, L.E. 2013. Biology, stock status and management summaries for selected fish species in south-western Australia. Fisheries Research Report No. 242. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia. 180pp.
  • Saunders, R.J., Bryars, S.R. & Fowler, A.J. 2010. Preliminary consideration of the biology of several of South Australia’s marine fish species that have conservation or management interest. Report to the Department for Environment and Heritage. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide, 41 pp. SARDI Publication Number F2009/000693-1. SARDI Research Report Series No. 426.
  • Waite, E.R. 1921. Illustrated catalogue of the fishes of South Australia. Records of the South Australian Museum 2(1): 1-208, 293 figs, pl. 1
  • Quick Facts


    CAAB Code:37311005

    Depth:0-30 m

    Fishing:Commercial, recreational fish

    Habitat:Rocky reefs

    Max Size:86 cm TL; 6 kg

    Native:Endemic

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