Dwarf Flathead, Elates ransonnettii (Steindachner 1877)

Illustration of the holotype of Elates thompsoni Jordan & Seale 1881, a junior synonym of Elates ransonnettii. Source: Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission 1881 (2). License: Public Domain

A small slender sand coloured flathead with a dusky blotch on the gill cover, several oval blotches along the sides, dark spots on the dorsal and caudal fins, and a filament extending from the upper lobe of the tail.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Elates ransonnettii in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 Feb 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/2177

Dwarf Flathead, Elates ransonnettii (Steindachner 1877)

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Inshore and continental shelf waters of the Indo–West Pacific; in northern Australia, from off Exmouth (Western Australia) to Pine Peak (Queensland). Elsewhere the species occurs in the East-Indo-west Pacific: off Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Gulf of Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan.

Inhabits sandy areas on the continental shelf at depths of 5–95 m. A single specimen is recorded from the North West Shelf at 221 m.


Dorsal fin VI, 12–14 (usually 13); Anal fin 12–14; Caudal fin 14 or 15; Pectoral fin 19–22 (usually 20 or 21); Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales (pored) 83–107.


Maximum length at least 26 cm.


Light tan or cream dorsally with a series of small oval blotches along sides; head with scattered violet spots and a dusky blotch on operculum; pale to whitish ventrally. Dorsal and caudal fins with scattered blackish spots; pelvic fins whitish; anal and pectoral fins dusky.


Presumably primarily piscivorous, also benthic crustaceans.


Taken as incidental bycatch in trawls over soft bottoms.

Species Citation

Platycephalus ransonnetii Steindachner, 1876, Sitzungsber. Akad. Wiss. Wien 74: 209. Type locality: Singapore.


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Dwarf Flathead, Elates ransonnettii (Steindachner 1877)


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

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

Blaber, S.J.M., Brewer, D.T. & Harris, A.N. 1994. Distribution, biomass and community structure of demersal fishes of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 45(3): 375-396, figs 1-7 

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp. 

Herre, Albert W.C.T. 1940. Additions to the fish fauna of Malaya and notes on rare or little known Malayan and Bornean fishes. Bulletin of the Raffles Museum 16: 27-61

Imamura, H. 1996. Phylogeny of the family Platycephalidae and related taxa (Pisces: Scorpaeniformes). Species Diversity 1(2): 123-233

Imamura, H. & Hoese, D.F. 2020. Type status of Hyalorhynchus pellucidus Ogilby 1910 (Scorpaeniformes: Platycephalidae) with a discussion of Endeavour fishes described by J. D. Ogilby in 1910 from Australia. Ichthyological Research 68(1): 101-110. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10228-020-00774-2

Jordan, D.S. & Seale, A. 1907. Fishes of the islands of Luzon and Panay. Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries (U.S.) for 1906 26: 1-48 figs 1-20 (described as Elates thompsoni)

Keenan, C.P. 1991. Phylogeny of Australian species of flatheads (Teleostei, Platycephalidae) as determined by allozyme electrophoresis. Journal of Fish Biology 39 (Supplement A): 237-249.

Knapp, L.W. 1999. Family Platycepalidae. pp. 2385-2421 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. 4 2069-2790 pp.

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293.

McCulloch, A.R. 1914. Report on some fishes obtained by the F.I.S. Endeavour on the coasts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South and South-Western Australia. Part 2. Biological Results of the Fishing Experiments carried on by the F.I.S. Endeavour 1909-1914 2(3): 77-165 figs 1-15 pls 13-34

Ogilby, J.D. 1910. On some new fishes from the Queensland coast. Endeavour Series No. 1 23: 85-139 (described as Hyalorhynchus pellucidus, type locality Pine Peak and Cape Gloucester, Queensland)

Ramm, D.C., Pender, P.J., Willing, R.S. & Buckworth, R.C. 1990. Large-scale spatial patterns of abundance within the assemblage of fish caught by prawn trawlers in Northern Australian waters. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 41(1): 79-95.

Russell, B.C., Larson, H.K., Hutchins, J.B. & Allen, G.R. 2005. Reef fishes of the Sahul Shelf. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory Supplement 1 2005: 83-105 

Russell, B.C. & Houston, W. 1989. Offshore fishes of the Arafura Sea. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 6(1): 69-84 

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1984. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls.

Steindachner, F. 1877. Ichthyologische Beiträge (5). Über einige neue oder seltene Fischarten aus dem atlantischen, indischen und stillen Ocean. Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse 74(1): 203-234. See ref at BHL

Williams, A., Last, P.R., Gomon, M.F. & Paxton, J.R. 1996. Species composition and checklist of the demersal ichthyofauna of the continental slope off Western Australia (20–35º). Records of the Western Australian Museum 18: 135-155

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37296013

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:5-221 m (usually to 95 m)

Habitat:Benthic, sandy bottoms

Max Size:26 cm

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map