Common Weedfish, Heteroclinus perspicillatus (Valenciennes 1836)

Other Names: Robust Weedfish, Spotshoulder Weedfish

A Common Weedfish, Heteroclinus perspicillatus, at Schnapper Point, Mornington, Port Phillip, Victoria, May 2009. Source: Sascha Schultz / License: CC BY Attribution-NonCommercial


A common weedfish in shallow seagrass beds and on macroalgal-covered rocky reefs in southern Australia, usually with the dorsal fins only connected at their bases, about 7 broken bars along the sides, and a large black spot below the first dorsal fin.

The Common Weedfish is abundant in shallow seagrass and algal beds in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Heteroclinus perspicillatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jun 2019,

Common Weedfish, Heteroclinus perspicillatus (Valenciennes 1836)

More Info


Endemic to southern Australian waters, from eastern Victoria to Spencer Gulf, South Australia, and around Tasmania.

Common weedfishes live amongst rocks, seagrasses and macroalgae in bays, tides pools and along the coast in depths of 0-10 m.


Dorsal fin III, XXXI-XXXIV, 3-5; Anal fin II, 21-26; Caudal fin (segmented rays) 10-12; Pectoral fin 12-14; Pelvic fin I, 3; 
Lateral line scales (arched) 14-26 + (straight) 0-2; Gill rakers 1-3 + 5-7 = 7-10.
Body slender, compressed; orbital tentacle with a number of lobes; last fin spine of first dorsal connected by membrane to base of second dorsal-fin; dorsal-fin spines usually with free unbranched tips; anal-fin membranes deeply incised. 


To 20 cm TL


Colour variable, often reddish-brown or greenish, with about 7 broken bars extending onto the dorsal and anal fins; body sometimes plain; a large black spot present below first dorsal fin on each side; a black bar from below eye to upper jaw.




The sexes are separate and males have an intromittent organ for internal fertilisation. Australian weedfishes are ovoviviparous - meaning that the young develop inside eggs and hatch within the female before the well-developed larvae are born live.

Individual females usually carry multiple batches of eggs and/or embryos at the same time.

Species Citation

Clinus perspicillatus Valenciennes, 1836, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 11: 372. Type locality:  Westernport, Victoria.


Dianne J. Bray

Common Weedfish, Heteroclinus perspicillatus (Valenciennes 1836)


Castelnau, F.L. de 1875. Researches on the fishes of Australia. Intercolonial Exhibition Essays. 2. pp. 1–52 in, Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 : Official Record. Melbourne. [as Neoblennius fasciatus]

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.

Edgar, G.J. 2008. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland 2, 624 pp.

Edgar, G.J., Last, P.R. & Wells, M.W. 1982. Coastal Fishes of Tasmania and Bass Strait. Hobart : Cat & Fiddle Press 175 pp.

Edgar, G.J. & Shaw, C. 1995. The production and tropic ecology of shallow-water fish assemblages in Southern Australia. II. Diets of fishes and tropic relationships between fishes and benthos at Western Port, Victoria. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 194: 83-106. 

Edgar, G.J. & Shaw, C. 1995. The production and tropic ecology of shallow-water fish assemblages in Southern Australia. II. Diets of fishes and tropic relationships between fishes and benthos at Western Port, Victoria. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 194: 83-106.

Gunn, J.S. & Thresher, R.E. 1991. Viviparity and the reproductive ecology of clinid fishes (Clinidae) from temperate Australian waters. 31: 323-344

Günther, A. 1867. Additions to the knowledge of Australian reptiles and fishes. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 3 20(8): 45-68. [as Cristiceps robustus]

Hindell, J.S., Jenkins, G.P. & Keough, M.J. 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., 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.

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

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to sea fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

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

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.

Richardson, J. 1839. Account of a collection of fishes from Port Arthur, Van Diemen's Land. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 7: 95-100. [as Clinus despicillatus]

Scott, T.D., Glover, C.J.M. & Southcott, R.V. 1974. The Marine and Freshwater Fishes of South Australia. Adelaide : Government Printer 392 pp. figs.

Valenciennes, A. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1836. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 11 506 pp. pls 307-343.

Williams, J.T., Holleman, W. & Clements, K.D. 2014. Heteroclinus perspicillatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T179108A1570666. Downloaded on 17 August 2016.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37416013

Biology:Live bearer

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-10 m

Habitat:Reef associated, seagrass, algal beds

Max Size:20 cm TL


Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map