Blue Knifefish, Labracoglossa nitida McCulloch & Waite 1916

Other Names: Grey Knifefish

Illustration of the holotype of the Blue Knifefish, Labracoglossa nitida. Source: AR McCulloch, Plate 41 (fig. 2) in McCulloch & Waite (1916) Additions to the fish-fauna of Lord Howe Island. No. 5. Transactions Royal Society of South Australia 40. License: Public Domain

A slender bright blue sweep becoming paler below with a broad bright yellow stripe along the back, caudal peduncle and tail, and a black spot on the pectoral-fin base. Blue Knifefish have low dorsal and anal fins and a deeply forked tail.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Labracoglossa nitida in Fishes of Australia, accessed 30 Jan 2020,

Blue Knifefish, Labracoglossa nitida McCulloch & Waite 1916

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Sydney, New South Wales, and Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in northern New Zealand. Forms pelagic schools, usually in surface waters near pinnacles and headlands. 


Dorsal fin IX-X, 26; Anal fin III, 22-26; Pectoral fin 19-22; Pelvic fin I, 5; lateral-line (pored scales) 70-74; Gill rakers 32-35 (8-9 + 1 +23-25); Vertebrae 25 (10 + 15).
Body depth 23-30% SL, upper and lower profiles similar; head short, length 25-28% SL; eye with a narrow posterior skin flap in fish over 12 cm SL; preopercular margin finely serrate; predorsal scales extend forward to at least nostrils.


Feeds on zooplankton.

Species Citation

Labracoglossa nitida McCulloch & Waite 1916, Trans. Roy. Soc. S. Aust. 40: 439, pl. 41(2). Type locality: Lord Howe Island. 


Bray, D.J. 2019


Australian Faunal Directory

Blue Knifefish, Labracoglossa nitida McCulloch & Waite 1916


Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. 1976. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30(15): 365-454 figs 1-2 

Ayling, T. & Cox, G.J. 1982. Collins Guide to the Seafishes of New Zealand. Auckland : Collins 343 pp. 48 pls 475 figs.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

Francis, M.P., Grace, R.V. & Paulin, C.D. 1987. Coastal fishes of the Kermadec Islands. N.Z. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 21(1): 1-13.

Francis, M.P., Worthington, C.J., Saul, P. & Clements, K.D. 1999. New and rare tropical and subtropical fishes from northern New Zealand. N.Z. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 33: 571-586.

McCulloch, A.R. & Waite, E.R. 1916. Additions to the fish fauna of Lord Howe Island. No. 5. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 40: 437-451 pls 40-43 Ref at BHL

Trnski, T. & Knudsen, S.W. 2015. Family Scorpididae, pp. 1324-1329, in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. (eds) The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 4 pp. 1153-1748.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37332002

Depth:0-20 m

Habitat:Reef associated, pelagic

Max Size:24 cm TL

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