Tasselled Threefin, Apopterygion alta Kuiter 1986

Other Names: Tasselled Triplefin

A Tasselled Threefin, Apopterygion alta, in Port Philip, Victoria. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved

A triplefin with small yellow and red spots forming six multi-colored bands along the side, small red, yellow and blue spots on top of the head, and white spots and diagonal bands on the fins.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Apopterygion alta in Fishes of Australia, accessed 22 Sep 2020,

Tasselled Threefin, Apopterygion alta Kuiter 1986

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Endemic to the Bass Strait area of southern Australia, from Port Phillip Bay, northern Tasmania, and the Bass Strait islands, in depths of 5–77 m. Usually seen on sponges, often on yellow sponges.


Dorsal fin III + XIII-XIV + 9-11; Anal fin II, 20-21; Caudal fin 13; Pectoral fin 14-15; Pelvic fin I, 2; Lateral line scales (upper) 23-25.  
Body moderately elongate, shallow (17-23% SL), almost cylindrical, slightly compressed. Head of moderate size (23-30% SL), pointed; eyes large (30-35% HL); small, rounded fleshy tentacle above each eye; anterior nostril tubular with simple lobate tentacle; mouth large, reaching below centre of eyes, slightly oblique; teeth pointed, set in bands, outer rows widely spaced and enlarged.  
Scales ctenoid, large on body, small on head and belly, covering trunk, part of preopercle, small area dorsally on operculum and sometimes lower portion of pectoral fin base, rest of head naked; lateral line in two parts, upper section running from upper end of opercular opening, following contour of back, to below third dorsal fin, lower section represented by posteriorly notched scales, only some of which have pores, originating below origin of upper section, curving downwards behind pectoral fin to midline of side, portion below upper section poorly developed and with very few notched scales, those below and behind upper section notched; pores on head large and numerous. 
Dorsal fin in three distinctly separate sections, first with much shorter base and slightly taller than second, first and second spinous, each spine of first with two leaf like fleshy tabs at tip, third fin with soft rays, sometimes branched at tips; anal fin with elongate base and uniform height; caudal rounded. Pectoral fins large, uppermost ray simple and short, other rays in upper half of fin branched to base, rays in lower half simple but strong, middle rays longest, reaching near end of second dorsal fin. Pelvic fins simple, thoracic, inserted below first dorsal-fin origin.


Pale grey with six multicoloured bands consisting of small yellow and red spots, scales between bands edged with white; head with small red, yellow and blue spots on top; fins with white spots and diagonal bands.

Species Citation

Apopterygion alta Kuiter 1986, Revue Française d'Aquariologie et Herpétologie 12(3): 90, figs 2-3. Type locality: Rye Pier, Port Phillip Bay, Victoria.


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Tasselled Threefin, Apopterygion alta Kuiter 1986


Fricke, R. 1994. Tripterygiid fishes of Australia, New Zealand and the Southwest Pacific Ocean, with descriptions of 2 new genera and 16 species (Teleostei). Theses Zoologicae 24: 1-585 figs 1-130 

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Tripterygiidae. pp. 684-693 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. 1986. A new genus and three new species of tripterygiid fishes of Australia's south coast. Revue Française d'Aquariologie et Herpétologie 12(3): 89-96 9 figs 

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1994. Families Blenniidae and Tripterygiidae. pp. 728-740 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. 

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.

Williams, J., Holleman, W. & Clements, K.D. 2014. Apopterygion alta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T179048A1563536. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T179048A1563536.en. Downloaded on 26 June 2018.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37415007

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:5-77 m

Max Size:6.5 cm SL


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