Velvet Leatherjacket, Meuschenia scaber (Forster 1801)

Other Names: Cosmopolitan Leatherjacket, Cream Fish, Kokiri, Scaber Leatherjacket

A Velvet Leatherjacket, Meuschenia scaber, at the Poor Knights Marine Reserve, New Zealand. Source: Andrew J. Green / Reef Life Survey. License: CC BY Attribution


A pale brown, greyish, or whitish leatherjacket, usually with large dark blotches, and 2-3 dark diagonal bars from the eye to the underside of the head. Males have a narrow blackish submarginal bar on the tail.

The common name, Velvet Leatherjacket refers to the scales which have many tiny spinules, giving this species a velvety appearance.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2014, Meuschenia scaber in Fishes of Australia, accessed 16 Jul 2019,

Velvet Leatherjacket, Meuschenia scaber (Forster 1801)

More Info


Southern half of Australia, from Sydney, New South Wales, to Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia, and around Tasmania; also Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island. Elsewhere the species occurs in the temperate, south-west Pacific (Chatham Islands, Kermadec Islands and New Zealand).

Although Velvet Leatherjackets usually inhabit deeper macroalgal-covered reefs, they occasionally enter bays and estuaries, especially as juveniles. Individuals are also seen on shallow coastal reefs; depth range 20-200 m.


Dorsal fin spines/rays II,  28-32; Anal fin rays 31-36; Caudal fin rays 12; Pectoral fin rays 12-14; Vertebrae 20.
Body oblong, moderately deep, with a prominent first dorsal-fin spine above the rear of the eye, a small to moderate ventral flap and no spines or bristles on the tail base.


To 32 cm


Pale brown, greyish, or white, usually with large dark blotches, and 2-3 dark bars from eye to underside of head; tail of male with a thin blackish cross-bar near hind margin.


Carnivore - feeds on benthic invertebrates, but has also been observed feeding on zooplankton above the bottom.

Rudie Kuiter reports that Velvety Leatherjackets are known to bite divers' fingers.


Often taken in trawls.


Bray, D.J. 2014


Australian Faunal Directory

Velvet Leatherjacket, Meuschenia scaber (Forster 1801)


  • Forster, J.R. in Bloch, M.E. & Schneider, J.G 1801. Systema Ichthyologiae Iconibus ex Illustratum. Berlin 584 pp. 110 pls.
  • Francis, M.P. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, Southwest Pacific Ocean. Pac. Sci. 47(2): 136-170. 
  • Hutchins, J.B. 1977. Descriptions of three new genera and eight new species of monacanthid fishes from Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 5(1): 3-58 figs 1-13 (as Parika scaber)
  • Hutchins, J.B. 1994. Family Monacanthidae. pp. 866-891 figs 767-787 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.
  • Hutchins, J.B. 2008. Family Monacanthidae. pp. 822-841 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.
  • May, J.L. & J.G.H. Maxwell. 1986. Trawl fish from temperate waters of Australia. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research, Tasmania. 492 pp.
  • Poynter, M.R. 1980. The distribution and abundance of a temperate reef fish Parika scaber (Monacanthidae) with emphasis on recruitment, plus aspects of feeding ecology and growth. M.Sc. Thesis, Univ. Auckland. 65 pp.
  • Russell, B.C. 1983. The food and feeding habits of rocky reef fish of north-eastern New Zealand. N.Z. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 17(2): 121-145.
  • Waite, E.R. 1899. Scientific results of the trawling expedition of H.M.C.S. Thetis off the coast of New South Wales. Memoirs of the Australian Museum 4: 1-132 figs 1-10 pls 1-31 (as Monacanthus setosus)
  • Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37465005

    Depth:5-200 m

    Habitat:Reef associated

    Max Size:32 cm

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