Sharpnose Weed Whiting, Siphonognathus caninis (Scott 1976)

Other Names: Sharp-nose Rockwhiting, Sharp-nose Weed Whiting, Sharp-nosed Weed Whiting

A male Sharpnose Weed Whiting, Siphonognathus caninis, at Adelaide in the Gulf St Vincent, South Australis. Source: Rick Stuart-Smith / Reef Life Survey. License: CC BY Attribution

Males and females of this rarely seen weed whiting have different colour patterns. Juveniles and females are reddish to reddish-brown or green with similar coloured patches on the fins, and an irregular pearly midlateral stripe. Larger females often have two black spots near the caudal-fin base.

Males are yellowish-orange to green, with four to five fine bluish-white stripes along the head and sides. The dorsal fin is blue anteriorly, with a prominent black blotch on the middle of the fin and three horizontal blue lines on the soft rayed portion. The anal fin has three blue lines, and the caudal fin has blue spots.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Martin F. Gomon, Siphonognathus caninis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 May 2019,

Sharpnose Weed Whiting, Siphonognathus caninis (Scott 1976)

More Info


Endemic to southern Australia from  eastern Bass Strait ,Victoria, to Rottnest Island, Western Australia, and NE Tasmania and King and Flinders islands.

Inhabits shallow inshore algal covered areas on or between rocky reefs to about 35 m, usually at or below 15 m. Although rarely seen, this species is likely to occur in clear waters along the coast where diving conditions are difficult. It is often found on rocky reefs and drop-offs near the bottom in fine brown and red algae zones or in deeper areas with sparse seagrass. In Western Australia, the species has been recorded from Amphibolis griffithii and Posidonia coriacea seagrass beds.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin XV- XVI, 11-13; Anal fin III, 10-12; Caudal fin 11-12; Pectoral fin 13-14; Pelvic fin I, 4; Lateral line scales 41-49.

Body shallow (15-17% SL) slightly elongate, compressed; caudal peduncle of moderate length and depth (caudal peduncle depth 43-58% caudal peduncle length).  Head elongate (31-43% SL), snout elongate (31-43% HL), sharply pointed;  eyes moderately small (17-23% HL);  mouth small (upper jaw length 17-27% HL), horizontal, reaching just more than half way to front edge of eyes;  teeth mostly fused into a pavement-like beak, except for one or more pairs of enlarged canines near the front of each jaw.

Scales small, cycloid, covering body and part of head including most of opercle and rear portion of cheek, predorsal scales reaching forward about halfway between dorsal fin origin and rear edge of eye;  lateral line nearly straight but with low dorsal curve above pectoral fin. 

Single long-based dorsal fin with a deep notch between the spinous and soft portions; anal fin opposite, similar to, but slightly smaller than soft portion of dorsal; caudal fins slightly rounded in juveniles, broadly pointed in adults. Pectoral fins rounded. Pelvic fins small, arising slightly behind and below pectoral fin origin.


Juveniles and females red, brown or green including patches on fins which increasingly cover the fin with growth; head and sides with a broken dark-edged pearly midlateral stripe; upper sides often with other pearly markings; caudal fin in larger specimens often with two black spots near base; fins otherwise clear.

Males yellowish-orange to green including fins, with four or five bluish-white horizontal lines on the head and sides; dorsal fin with blue membrane at anterior end, a prominent black blotch centrally, and three horizontal blue lines on the soft ray portion; anal fin with three blue lines; caudal fin with blue spots.


It is sexually dimorphic, but there is no data available on life history.

Species Citation

Parodax caninus Scott, 1976, Rec. West. Aust. Mus., 4(4): 367, fig. 6. Type locality: Fremantle, Western Australia.


Dianne J. Bray & Martin F. Gomon

Sharpnose Weed Whiting, Siphonognathus caninis (Scott 1976)


Bray, D.J. & Hoese, D.F. 2006. Odacinae. pp. 1419-1424 in Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3, 2178 pp.

Clements, K.D., Alfaro, M.E., Fessler, J.L. & Westneat, M.W. 2004. Relationships of the temperate Australasian labrid fish tribe Odacini (Perciformes; Teleostei). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32: 575–587.

Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Odacidae. pp. 700-710 figs 612-621 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.

Gomon, M.F. & Paxton, J.R. 1986. A revision of the Odacidae, a temperate Australian-New Zealand labroid fish family. Indo-Pacific Fishes 8: 1-57 figs 1-21 pls 1-6 [dated 1985]

Gomon. M.F. 2008. Family Odacidae. pp. 659-667 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

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. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs.

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

MacArthur, L.D. & Hyndes, G.A. 2001. Differential use of seagrass assemblages by a suite of odacid species. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 52: 79-90.

Russell, B., Clements, K.D., Choat, J.H., Myers, R., Rocha, L.A., Lazuardi, M.E., Muljadi, A., Pardede, S. & Rahardjo, P. 2012. Siphonognathus caninis. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. . Downloaded on 13 March 2014.

Scott, J.K. 1976. A review of the fish genus Neoodax (Odacidae) of Western Australia with descriptions of a closely allied new genus and species. Records of the Western Australian Museum 4(4): 349-373 figs 1-6

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37385011

Biology:Changes sex

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:5-35 m

Habitat:Rocky reefs

Max Size:10 cm SL


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