Yellow Crested Weedfish, Cristiceps aurantiacus Castelnau 1879

Other Names: Crested Weedfish, Crested Weed-fish, Golden Weedfish, Yellow-crested Weedfish

A Yellow Crested Weedfish, Cristiceps aurantiacus, at Fairy Bower, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


A mottled yellow or reddish-brown to green weedfish, sometimes with scattered dark brown spots. The body often has faint irregular brown bands and a distinct dark oblique bar from eye to rear of mouth.

The Yellow Crested Weedfish is a very cryptic species, and may be difficult to see as it sometimes mimics algae.

Video of a Yellow Crested Weedfish at Clifton Gardens, Sydney Harbour, March 2014.

Video of a Yellow Crested Weedfish camouflaged amongst kelp.

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray, Cristiceps aurantiacus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 Mar 2017,

Yellow Crested Weedfish, Cristiceps aurantiacus Castelnau 1879

More Info


Known from temperate waters of the South-west Pacific. Occurs in eastern and western Australia, from Southport, QLD to Geelong, VIC, and from the Recherche Archipelago to Geraldton, WA. Also at Lord Howe Island and New Zealand.

Inhabits rock pools and subtidal rocky reefs in bays, harbours and along the coast. Yellow Crested Weedfish often occur in kelp beds or other macroalgae, or shelter amongst loose weeds on adjacent sandy areas.


Dorsal fin III, XXIX-XXX, 6-7; Anal fin  II, 24-25; Caudal fin: 10 (segmented); Pectoral fin 11; Pelvic fin I, 3; Lateral line 20-22 (arched) + 32-38 (straight); Gill rakers 1-2 + 6-7 = 8-10; Vertebrae 15 (precaudal).

Head length 23-25% SL; eye diameter 3-4% SL; snout length greater than eye diameter, 5-7% SL; mouth to below middle of eye in young, to below and behind rear margin of eye in adults, length 10-12% SL; orbital tentacle simple or with small lateral lobes, length greater than eye diameter, 3.5-5.0 % SL.

First dorsal fin elevated, second fin spine 17-21% SL, fin origin before middle of eye and orbital tentacle, not connected by membrane to base of second dorsal fin; second dorsal-fin origin below or just behind rear edge of preopercle, flaps posteriorly from dorsal-fin spines completely bound in membrane, posterior fin rays usually not elongate or reaching to caudal fin in adults, only rarely to caudal-fin base; last 2 rays of both dorsal fin and anal fin grouped closer together than to previous rays; pelvic fins with a tiny spine and 3 rays, the tip about 2/3 way to anus, inner fin ray more than half length of second ray.


To a maximum total length of 18 cm.


Reddish-brown, brown, or green, sometimes with scattered dark brown spots; dark brown oblique narrow bar, sometimes with silver leading edge, from underside of eye to just past rear end of jaws; often with 5-6 faint narrow irregular vertical brown bands on side onto dorsal and anal fins; sometimes silver patches anteriorly on side or head; front of 1st dorsal fin dark brown, paler posteriorly; 2nd dorsal and anal fins with broad brown vertical bands or uniformly coloured, usually with clear oval patches between bands and distinct oval spot just before last 2 dorsal-fin rays; pelvic and caudal fins mottled with irregular bands or dark brown with clear or white areas.


Carnivore - feeds on small fishes and crustaceans.


Weedfishes have internal fertilisation and give birth to live young (viviparous).


Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray

Yellow Crested Weedfish, Cristiceps aurantiacus Castelnau 1879


Clements, K.D., Holleman, W. & Williams, J.T. 2014. Cristiceps aurantiacus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T178972A1554122. Downloaded on 17 August 2016.

Hoese, D.F., M.F. Gomon & D.S. Rennis. 2008. Family Clinidae (pp. 696-722). In: Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Rennis, D., Hoese, D.F. & Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Clinidae (pp. 741-775, figs 650-684) 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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37416017

Biology:Live bearer

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:2-30 m

Habitat:Rocky reefs, kelp, seagrass

Max Size:18 cm TL

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map