Southern Moonfish, Lampris immaculatus Gilchrist 1904

Other Names: Southern Opah

Southern Moonfish, Lampris immaculatus. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A large oval-shaped pelagic fish with a dark silvery-blue body above, paler below, and bright red fins.

Moonfish are rare oceanic fishes found throughout cooler waters of the Southern Hemisphere. A considerable amount of plastic was found in the stomachs of Lampris immaculatus in the Southern Ocean (Jackson et al. 2000).

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Lampris immaculatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 12 Apr 2021,

Southern Moonfish, Lampris immaculatus Gilchrist 1904

More Info


Epi- and mesopelagic in temperate and cold temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere. In Australian waters, recorded from off southern Tasmania, in depths of 50-485 m.


Dorsal fin 49-56; Anal fin 32-40; Pectoral fin 21-24; Pelvic fin 12-15; Gill rakers 13-14; Vertebrae 43.

Body much longer than deep, depth 1.9-2.3 in SL; head length 2.9-3.6 in SL; pectoral-fin length 4.8-5.4 in SL; pelvic-fin length 4.1-6.6 in SL. Pelvic-fin origin at or behind mid-body; caudal fin slightly forked.

Body covered in small, cycloid, deciduous (easily-shed) scales.


To a maximum total length of 125 cm.


Body a dark silvery-blue or bluish-grey overlain with a metallic sheen above; silvery-grey with a reddish overlay below straight part of lateral line; snout reddish; fins bright orange with paler margins.


Feeds mostly mesopelagic squids, along with mesopelagic fishes and krilll. Individuals in the Southwest Atlantic also consume significant amounts of plastic (Jackson et al. 2000).


Although not targeted, the species is taken and retained as bycatch in commercial longline tuna and billfish fisheries, and also in trawl fisheries. 


Southern Moonfish appear to follow fishing boats to feed on targeted species, which may impact their foraging behavior, and cause considerable ingestion of plastic (Jackson et al. 2000).

Similar Species

The other species in the genus found in Australian waters Lampris australensisand L. megalopsis, are deeper-bodied, have longer pectoral and pelvic fins, and silvery-white spots on the body.


The specific name immaculatus is from the Latin im-, (= not) and maculata, (= spotted), in reference to the lack of white spots on the body unlike Lampris guttatus

Species Citation

Lampris immaculata Gilchrist, 1904, Mar. Investig. South Africa 3: 4, pl. 22. Type locality: beach at Muizenberg, False Bay, South Africa


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Southern Moonfish, Lampris immaculatus Gilchrist 1904


Duhamel, G., Gasco, N. & Davaine, P. 2005. Poissons des îles Kerguelen et Crozet. Guide régional de l'océan Austral. Collection Patrimoines Naturels 63, Muse´um National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, 419 pp

Gilchrist, J.D.F. 1904. Descriptions of new South African fishes. Marine Investigations in South Africa 3: 1-16 18 pls

Gon, O. 1990. Lampridae (pp. 215-217). In Gon, O. & P.C. Heemstra (eds) Fishes of the Southern Ocean. J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology, Grahamstown, South Africa.

Heemstra, P.C. 1986. Family No. 117: Lampridae. In Smith, M.M. & P.C. Heemstra (eds). Smiths’ sea fishes. Macmillan South Africa, Johannesburg, 398pp.

Jackson G.D., N.G. Buxton, N.G. & George, M.J.A. 2000. The diet of the southern Opah Lampris immaculatus on the Patagonian Shelf; the significance of the squid Moroteuthis ingens and anthropogenic plastic. Marine Ecology Progress Series 206: 261-271 doi:10.3354/meps206261

Moore, J. 2019. Lampris immaculatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T123373847A123376503. Downloaded on 17 June 2020.

Olney, J.E. 1999. Families Veliferidae, Lamprididae, Stylephoridae, Lophotidae, Radiicephalidae, Trachipteridae, Regalecidae. pp. 1966-1975 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 1397-2068 pp.

Palmer, G. & Oelschläger, H.A. 1976. Use of the name Lampris guttatus (Brünnich, 1788) in preference to Lampris regius (Bonnaterre, 1788) for the opah. Copeia 1976(2): 366-367.

Parin, N.V. & Kukuyev, Ye.I. 1983. Re-establishment of the validity of Lampris immaculata Gilchrist and the geographical distribution of the Lampridae. Journal of Ichthyology 23(1): 1–12.

Stewart, A.L. 2015. 91 Family Lampridae (pp. 684-686), in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. 2015. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 3 pp. 577-1152.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37268002

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:50-500 m

Habitat:Oceanic: epi- & mesopelagic

Max Size:125 cm TL; 30 kg

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map