Adelaide Weedfish, Heteroclinus adelaidae Castelnau 1872

Other Names: Adelaide's Weedfish, Phillips Weedfish

An Adelaide Weedfish, Heteroclinus adelaidae, at St Leonards Pier, Port Phillip, Victoria, 2005. Source: Julian K. Finn / Museum Victoria. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A relatively small weedfish with a pointed snout, usually black anterior lateral-line scales, the first dorsal fin arising above posterior margin of the preopercle, dorsal-fin spine tips without free filaments, 2-4 dorsal-fin rays with the last anal-fin ray broadly connected by a membrane to the caudal peduncle, and usually 11 pectoral-fin rays. the pelvic fin has two slender, elongate pelvic-fin rays and often a rudimentary third ray embedded in the skin. 

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Heteroclinus adelaidae in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Aug 2019,

Adelaide Weedfish, Heteroclinus adelaidae Castelnau 1872

More Info


Endemic to southern Australia from Corner Inlet, Victoria, to Shark Bay, Western Australia, and around Tasmania. Inhabits seagrass beds and macroalgal-covered reefs in depths to about 18 metres.


Dorsal fin III, XXVIII-XXXIII, 2-4; Anal fin II, 21-25; Caudal fin (segmented) 11; Pectoral fin 10-13; Pelvic fin I, 2; Lateral line pores (arched) 18-27 + (straight) 0-8; Gill rakers 1-2 + 5-7 = 6-10

Body long, slender, mouth small; pores around eye in a single series; pelvic fins with a small spine and 2 segmented rays; anal fin broadly connected by a membrane to about the middle of tail base; dorsal fin arising over middle of gill cover, hind membrane connected to base of tail fin. 


Anterior lateral line scales black.

Similar Species

Heteroclinus adelaidae is most similar to H. kuiteri  and H. macrophthalmus, in having the last anal ray broadly connected by a membrane to the caudal peduncle, two slender and elongate pelvic rays and often a rudimentary third pelvic ray, visible only upon dissection. H. adelaidae differs from  H. kuiteri in usually having fewer pectoral rays 11 (versus 12-13), the dorsal fin origin over posterior preopercular margin (versus over or before posterior margin of eye), pterygiophores behind skull (versus pterygiophores in groove in skull) and a usually a black line along the anterior lateral line (versus no black line along anterior lateral line).

Heteroclinus adelaidae differs from H. macrophthalmus in lacking free filaments extending off the first few dorsal-fin spines (free and branched in H. macrophthalmus), simple orbital tentacle (versus tentacle branched with five lobes) and fewer dorsal-fin rays (two–four, versus usually five).

Species Citation

Heteroclinus adelaidae Castelnau, 1872, Proc. Zool. Acclim. Soc. Vict. 1: 247. Type locality: Gulf St Vincent, SA.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Australian Faunal Directory

Adelaide Weedfish, Heteroclinus adelaidae Castelnau 1872


Ayvazian, S.G. & Hyndes, G.A. 1995. Surf-zone fish assemblages in south-western Australia: do adjacent nearshore habitats and the warm Leeuwin Current influence the characteristic of the fish fauna? Marine Biology 122(4): 1432-1793.

Castelnau, F.L. de 1872. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. 2. Note on some South Australian fishes. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 1: 243-248.

Crinall, S. & Hindell, J.S. 2004. Assessing the use of saltmarsh flats by fish in a temperate Australian embayment. Estuaries 27(4): 728–739.

Hindell, J.S., G.P. Jenkins & M.J. Keough, 2000. Variability in abundances of fishes associated with seagrass habitats in relation to diets of predatory fishes. Marine Biology 136(4): 725-737.

Hoese, D.F. 1976. A redescription of Heteroclinus adelaidae Castelnau (Pisces : Clinidae), with description of a related species. Australian Zoologist 19(1): 51-67 figs 1-7

Hoese, D.F., Gomon, M.F. & Rennis, D.S. 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. Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs.

Lucas, A.H.S. 1891. On the occurrence of certain fish in Victorian seas, with descriptions of some new species. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria ns 3(2): 8-14 pl. 3 (as Cristiceps phillipi).

McCulloch, A.R. 1908. Studies in Australian fishes, No. 1. Records of the Australian Museum 7(1): 36-43 pls 10-11 (as Petraites phillipi).

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

Smith, T.M., Hindell, J.S., Jenkins, G.P. & Connolly, R.M. 2008. Edge effects on fish associated with seagrass and sand patches. Marine Ecology Progress Series 359: 203–213.

Williams, J.T., Holleman, W. & Clements, K.D. 2014. Heteroclinus adelaidae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T178903A1545830. Downloaded on 13 May 2019.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37416008


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-18 m

Habitat:Seagrass beds, weedy reefs

Max Size:9 cm TL


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CAAB distribution map