Common name: Amarsipas, Bagless glassfishes


The family Amarsipidae contains a single species, Amarsipus carlsbergi, a very rare pelagic fish. The Amarspia is long, slender, brown to blackish in colour, with two low dorsal fins, pectoral fins low in the body, a deeply forked tail and thin deciduous scales. Nothing is known of its biology.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Amarsipas, AMARSIPIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 May 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

The family Amarsipidae comprises a single genus and species, Amarsipus carlsbergi.

Family Distribution

Amarsipas are epipelagic in equatorial waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans, from South Africa and the Arabian Sea, eastwards to the Central Pacific Ocean. The species is known in Australian waters from the eastern part of North Queensland, and the Coral Sea and Torres Strait islands. Most records are based on juveniles which have usually been collected near the surface. Adults are extremely rare, and have been collected from 30 to 130 m.

Family Description

Meristics: D IX-XII, 22-27; A 27-32; P 17-19; GR 19-22; Branchiostegal rays 6; Vertebrae 46-48. Small, slender compressed fishes, head short, snout bluntly pointed, eye moderately large, near to of head, with adipose tissue at front. Mouth terminal, moderately large, upper jaw reaching beyond eye, lachrymal bone covering upper jaw of closed mouth. Jaw teeth small, recurved, in a single series; vomer with 3-4 teeth, palatines teeth weak. Gill rakers relatively long, stout, falttened. Caudal peduncle long, compressed, caudal fin deeply forked. Two dorsal fins, distinctly separate in adults, almost connected in juveniles; the first comprised of short delicate spines, originating just behind pectoral-fin base; second dorsal fin soft-rayed, long-based, higher than first. Anal fin soft-rayed, long-based, originating just before second dorsal fin. Pectoral fins small, rounded, low on body. Pelvic fins small, close together, below pectoral fins. Scales small, thin, cycloid, somewhat deciduous; lateral line extending from operculum to caudal-fin base. Body with a well-developed mucous-canal system with pores scattered over body. Amarsipas lack pharyngeal pouches, which are paired tooth pockets that project from the gullet just behind the last gill arch. These pouches are found in related families such as the Stromateidae. Juveniles amarsipas are deeper-bodied, with long jugular pelvic fins, a very low first dorsal fin, a deeply forked tail and larger pectoral fins.

Family Size

To 22 cm.

Family Colour

Dark brown to black, gill cavity dark.

Family Feeding


Family Reproduction


Family Commercial

Rare fishes of no interest to fisheries.

Family Conservation

Not evaluated.

Family Remarks

The family name Amarsipidae is from the Greek a, meaning without, and marsipos, meaning a bag, in reference to the lack of pharyngeal pouches in amarsipas.


Dianne J. Bray


Bray, D.J. & D.F. Hoese. 2006. Family Amarsipidae, p. 1786. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing, Parts 1-3.

Haedrich, R.L. 1969. A new family of stromateoid fishes from the equatorial Indo-Pacific. Dana Reports 76: 1-14 figs 1-10

Haedrich, R.L. 1986. Amarsipidae. p. 842. In M.M. Smith & P.C. Heemstra (eds.) Smiths' sea fishes. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Konovalenko, I.I. & A.S. Piotrovskiy. 1989. First description of a sexually mature Amarspa, Amarsipus carlsbergi. J. Ichthyol., 28(5): 86-89.

Last, P.R. 2001. Amarsipidae. pp. 3765-3766 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons 601 pp.

Parin, N.V. & A.S. Piotrovsky. 2004. Stromateoid fishes (Suborder: Stromateoidei) of the Indian Ocean (species composition, distribution, biology and fisheries). J. Ichthyol. 44(1): S33-S62.