Marblefish, Aplodactylus arctidens Richardson 1839

Other Names: Keke, Kelpies, Marbled Kelpfish, Sea Carp, Seacarp, Southern Sea Carp, Southern Seacarp, Stinky Groper

A Marblefish, Aplodactylus arctidens, in Port Davey, Tasmania, February 2013. Source: Ian Shaw / License: CC BY Attribution-NonCommercial

Body grey to greenish-brown with a variable pattern of pale reticulations and markings on the body and fins.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Aplodactylus arctidens in Fishes of Australia, accessed 16 Nov 2018,

Marblefish, Aplodactylus arctidens Richardson 1839

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Found in southern Australia and New Zealand. Inhabits shallow, weedy reefs to a depth of 20 m.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin XVI-IX, 16-18; Anal fin III, 6-8; Pectoral fin i, 13-14; Lateral-line scales 100-120; Gill rakers 4-8 + 11-15 = 17-22; Vertebrae 16-18=34.

Body elongate, greatest depth 3.3-4.7 in SL; head length 3.8-4.8 in SL; snout short, 2.5± 3.6 in head; dorsal profile of head rounded; orbital diameter 4.4-6.8 in head; interorbital space more or less straight or slightly convex medially, least width of interorbital 3.4-5.8 in head; least depth of caudal peduncle 1.8-2.7 in head; peduncle length 2.1-4.0 in head. Mouth small, somewhat ventral on head; lips fleshy, upper lip projecting, maxilla reaching a vertical through posterior nostril; teeth small, mainly tricuspid, a few lanceolate, in three to four rows in jaws, outermost row of teeth largest; vomerine teeth in small patch; two pairs of nostrils, anterior pair with fleshy tentaculate flaps on anteroventral margin and posteroventral margin; opercle with broad flat spine which does not extend to the fleshy margin.

Dorsal fin long-based, with elongate notch between spinous and soft parts of fin, basal length of soft dorsal fin 1.2-1.5 in length of spinous part; anal fin short, basal length 1.9-2.7 in head; pectoral fin length 0.9-1.6 in head, ventral-most 5 to 6 rays simple, fleshy; pelvic fin length 1.2-1.9 in head, rays fleshy.

Scales small, cycloid, embedded, extending on to cheeks and opercles, and forming a sheath along base of spinous dorsal fin.


Variable in  colour from grey to greenish-brown with variable whitish blotches and reticulations.


Grazes on algae.


Considered a very poor food fish.


Dianne J. Bray

Marblefish, Aplodactylus arctidens Richardson 1839


Choat, J.H. & K.D. Clements. 1992. Diet in Odacid and Aplodactylid fishes from Australia and New Zealand. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43(6): 1451-1459.

Cole, R.G. 2001. Patterns of abundance and population size structure of herbivorous fishes at the subtropical Kermadec Islands and in mainland New Zealand. New Zealand Journal Marine and Freshwater Research 35: 445-456.

Russell, B.C. 1983. The food and feeding habits of rocky reef fish of north-eastern New Zealand. New Zealand Journal Marine and Freshwater Research 17(2): 121-145.

Russell, B.C. 2000. Review of the southern temperate fish family Aplodactylidae (Pisces: Perciformes). Journal of Natural History 34: 2157-2171.

Taylor, R.B. & T.J. Willis. 1998. Relationships amongst length, weight and growth of north-eastern New Zealand reef fishes. Marine and Freshwater Research 49: 255-260.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37376001

Depth:0-20 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:65 cm TL

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