Southern Moonfish, Lampris immaculatus Gilchrist 1904

Other Names: Southern Opah

Southern Moonfish, Lampris immaculatus. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A large oval-shaped pelagic fish with a dark silvery-blue body above, paler below, and bright red fins.

Moonfish are rare oceanic fishes found throughout cooler waters of the Southern Hemisphere. A considerable amount of plastic was found in the stomachs of Lampris immaculatus in the Southern Ocean (Jackson et al. 2000).

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Lampris immaculatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 May 2019,

Southern Moonfish, Lampris immaculatus Gilchrist 1904

More Info


Epi- and mesopelagic in temperate and cold temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere. In Australian waters, recorded from off southern Tasmania, in depths of 50-485 m.


Dorsal fin 49-56; Anal fin 32-40; Pectoral fin 21-24; Pelvic fin 12-15; Gill rakers 13-14; Vertebrae 43.

Body much longer than deep, depth 1.9-2.3 in SL; head length 2.9-3.6 in SL; pectoral-fin length 4.8-5.4 in SL; pelvic-fin length 4.1-6.6 in SL. Pelvic-fin origin at or behind mid-body; caudal fin slightly forked.

Body covered in small, cycloid, deciduous (easily-shed) scales.


To a maximum total length of 125 cm.


Body a dark silvery-blue or bluish-grey overlain with a metallic sheen above; silvery-grey with a reddish overlay below straight part of lateral line; snout reddish; fins bright orange with paler margins.


Carnivore - feeds mostly on mesopelagic fishes, squid and krill.

Similar Species

The Opah, Lampris guttatus, has a deeper body, longer pectoral and pelvic fins and is covered in silvery-white spots.

Species Citation

Lampris immaculata Gilchrist, 1904, Mar. Investig. South Africa 3: 4, pl. 22. Type locality: beach at Muizenberg, False Bay, South Africa


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Southern Moonfish, Lampris immaculatus Gilchrist 1904


Duhamel, G., Gasco, N. & Davaine, P. 2005. Poissons des îles Kerguelen et Crozet. Guide régional de l'océan Austral. Collection Patrimoines Naturels 63, Muse´um National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, 419 pp

Gilchrist, J.D.F. 1904. Descriptions of new South African fishes. Marine Investigations in South Africa 3: 1-16 18 pls

Gon, O. 1990. Lampridae (pp. 215-217). In Gon, O. & P.C. Heemstra (eds) Fishes of the Southern Ocean. J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology, Grahamstown, South Africa.

Heemstra, P.C. 1986. Family No. 117: Lampridae. In Smith, M.M. & P.C. Heemstra (eds). Smiths’ sea fishes. Macmillan South Africa, Johannesburg, 398pp.

Jackson G.D., N.G. Buxton & M.J.A. George. 2000. The diet of the southern Opah Lampris immaculatus on the Patagonian Shelf; the significance of the squid Moroteuthis ingens and anthropogenic plastic. Marine Ecology Progress Series 206: 261-271. PDF

Olney, J.E. 1999. Families Veliferidae, Lamprididae, Stylephoridae, Lophotidae, Radiicephalidae, Trachipteridae, Regalecidae. pp. 1966-1975 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 1397-2068 pp.

Palmer, G. & Oelschläger, H.A. 1976. Use of the name Lampris guttatus (Brünnich, 1788) in preference to Lampris regius (Bonnaterre, 1788) for the opah. Copeia 1976(2): 366-367.

Parin, N.V. & Kukuyev, Ye.I. 1983. Re-establishment of the validity of Lampris immaculata Gilchrist and the geographical distribution of the Lampridae. Journal of Ichthyology 23(1): 1–12.

Stewart, A.L. 2015. 91 Family Lampridae (pp. 684-686), in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. 2015. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 3 pp. 577-1152.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37268002

Depth:50-485 metres

Habitat:Oceanic: epi- & mesopelagic

Max Size:125 cm TL; 30 kg

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