Lyretail Pigfish, Bodianus anthioides (Bennett 1832)

Other Names: Lyretail Hogfish

A Lyretail Pigfish, Bodianus anthioides - aquarium shot. Source: Brian Gratwicke / Flickr: EOL Images. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike

A relatively small hogfish with a brownish-orange to reddish-orange anterior section, a whitish rear with brownish spots, and a black spot on the front of the dorsal fin. As the common name suggests, the Lyretail Pigfish has a deeply forked tail that distinguishes it from all other species of Bodianus.
Video of a Lyretail Pigfish

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray, Bodianus anthioides in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Jul 2024,

Lyretail Pigfish, Bodianus anthioides (Bennett 1832)

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Found on tropical reefs of northern Australia from Seringapatam Reef, off north-western Western Australia, and Lizard Island to Escape Reef on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland; also Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Occurs elsewhere throughout much of the tropical Indo-Pacific ranging from the Red Sea to the Tuamotu Archipelago.

Inhabit steep outer reef slopes with rich coral growth in depths of 6-60 m.


Dorsal fin XII, 9-10; Anal fin III, 12; Pectoral fin 14-17; Lateral line scales 29-30; 4-4½ scales above lateral line; 11-14½ scales below lateral line.

Head blunt; forehead convexly rounded; outline of snout nearly vertical in lateral aspect; outline of nape slightly convex; jaws obtuse. Upper jaw with prominent anterior canines of similar size, first slightly smaller in larger individuals; first canine directed mostly ventrally in small specimens, angled more anteroventrally and curved ventrally in larger individuals; second canine directed ventrally and slightly laterally; dental ridge massive anteriorly in large specimens, ridge with several small canines in smaller specimens, canines becoming prominent in larger individuals; 1 or 2 (often 2) enlarged canines  posteriorly, directed antero-ventrolaterally. Lower jaw with first prominent anterior canine 1/3-½ length of second, first much narrower than second; first canine directed anterodorsally and slightly mesially, second directed anterodorsally and recurved dorsolaterally, especially in large individuals; dental ridge prominent on anterior half of jaw but mostly devoid of teeth; teeth on posterior half of jaw mostly in single series, slightly longer posteriorly; series occasionally followed by 1 or 2 distinctly shorter canines. 

Caudal fin distinctly emarginate, dorsal and ventral rays forming extremely elongate filaments in juveniles, reaching length of more than 2.5 times those of middle rays (only 1.6 times in the largest specimen examined). Posterior tip of pelvic fin reaching just short of or to anus, reaching little past anus at most.

Predorsal scales reaching forward in advance of anterior nostril; cheek scales extending forward in advance of anterior nostril, preopercle fully scaled, scales covering posterior half of jaw; scaly basal sheath on base of dorsal and anal fins of moderate height, 2-2½ scales in depth.


Reaches 21 cm TL, 16 cm SL.


Body reddish brown to brown anteriorly, white posteriorly (suffused with pink in large specimens) with 2 broad black stripes suffused with red on caudal peduncle, one dorsally and one ventrally, stripes reaching to tips of forked caudal fin; variable number of small red to large black spots or irregular marks on white area, including black ring around anus; bicolored halves of body separated by antero-ventrally tapering diagonal black band, band originating dorsally at tips of anterior segmented dorsal-fin rays and terminating posterior to pectoral-fin base. Head suffused with black ventrally, indistinct black line directed postero-ventrally from corner of mouth.  Dorsal fin yellow to yellowish brown anterior to black body band, with large black spot at anterior end of fin; fin white or pinkish white to transparent posterior to black bar. Anal fin white to pinkish white posteriorly, becoming transparent at tip; broad red to black marginal stripe on anterior 2/3 of fin. Pectoral fin transparent.  Pelvic fin red with black streaks.


The body form suggests a plankton feeding life style, but this is not borne out by either field observations.or gut content analyses. Juveniles, which have proportionately longer caudal filaments than adults, may feed higher in the water column.


Juveniles pose as cleaner fishes.


The species name anthioides, is from the masculine Greek noun anthias, a common name for members of the anthiine serranid fishes, and oides, "having the form of", in reference to the similarity of this species to various anthiine species.

Species Citation

Crenilabrus anthioides Bennett, 1832, Proc. Comm. Sci. Corresp. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1: 167. Type locality: Mauritius.


Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray

Lyretail Pigfish, Bodianus anthioides (Bennett 1832)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island.Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012.Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21.

Bennett, E.T. 1832. Observations on a collection of fishes from Mauritius, presented by Mr Telfair, with characters of new genera and species, remaining portion. Proceedings of the Committee of Science and Correspondence of the Zoological Society of London 1: 165-169 [dated 1830–1831]

Gomon, M.F. 2006. A revision of the labrid fish genus Bodianus with descriptions of eight new species.Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 30: 1-133.

Hobbs, J-P.A., S .J. Newman, G.E.A. Mitsopoulos, M.J. Travers, C.L. Skepper, J.J. Gilligan, G.R. Allen, H.J. Choat & A.M. Ayling. 2014. Checklist and new records of Christmas Island fishes: the influence of isolation, biogeography and habitat availability on species abundance and community composition. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 184–202.

Hobbs, J-P.A., S .J. Newman, G.E.A. Mitsopoulos, M.J. Travers, C.L. Skepper, J.J. Gilligan, G.R. Allen, H.J. Choat & A.M. Ayling. 2014. Fishes of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands: new records, community composition and biogeographic significance. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 203–219.

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Biodiversity of shallow reef fish assemblages in Western Australia using a rapid censusing technique. Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 247-270.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37384052

Biology:Capable of changing sex

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:6-60 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:21 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map