Tommyfish, Limnichthys fasciatus Waite 1904

Other Names: Barred Sand Burrower, Sand-diver, Striped Sand-diver, Tommy Fish

A Tommyfish, Limnichthys fasciatus, at Batemans Marine Park, New South Wales. Source: Andrew J. Green / Reef Life Survey. License: CC by Attribution


A small elongate sand-burrowing fish with a series of dark bars of saddles along the back, some of which extend to the distinct lateral band.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Limnichthys fasciatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jul 2024,

Tommyfish, Limnichthys fasciatus Waite 1904

More Info


Six Mile Island to Kendrew Island, Western Australia, and Ashmore Reef, Coral Sea to off Eden, New South Wales. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, temperate, West Pacific - Vanuatu, Japan and Taiwan.


Species of the genus Limnichthyhs are protandrous hermaphrodites, meaning that they change sex from male to female during their life.

Similar Species

Differs from the Elegant Sandburrower, Limnichthys nitidus, in having some of the dark saddles along the back reaching the lateral band (vs none reaching the midline in L. nitidus).

Species Citation

Limnichthys fasciatus Waite 1904, Rec. Aust. Mus. 5(3): 178, pl. 23(4). Type locality: Lord Howe Island.


Bray, D.J. 2017


Australian Faunal Directory

Tommyfish, Limnichthys fasciatus Waite 1904


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.

Collin, H.B. & Collin, S.P. (1988) The cornea of the sandlance, Limnichthys fasciatus (Creediidae). Cornea 7(3): 190-203.

Collin, S.P. & Collin, H.B. (1988) The morphology of the retina and lens of the sandlance Limnichthys fasciatus (Creediidae). Experimental Biology 47: 208-218.

Collin, S.P. & Collin, H.B. (1988) Topographic analysis of the retinal ganglion cell layer and the optic nerve in the sandlance, Limnichthys fasciatus (Creediidae, Perciformes). The Journal of Comparative Neurology 278: 226-241.

Collin, S.P. & Collin, H.B. (1997) The head and eye of the sandlance, Limnichthys fasciatus (Creediidae). A field emission scanning electron microscopy study. Clinical and Experimental Optometry 80: 133-138.

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

Glover, C.J.M. 1994. Family Creediidae. pp. 715-716 figs 626-627 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.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp. 

Johnson, J.W. 2008. Family Creediidae. pp. 674-675 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. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. 437 pp.

Langston, R.C. 2004. Gonad morphology and sex change in sandburrowers (Teleostei: Creediidae). Ph.D thesis, University of Hawaii

Neira, F.J., A.G. Miskiewicz & T. Trnski. 1998. Larvae of temperate Australian fishes: laboratory guide for larval fish identification. University of Western Australia Press. 474 pp.

Nelson, J.S. 1978. Limnichthys polyactis, a new species of blennioid fish from New Zealand with notes on the taxonomy and distribution of other Creediidae (including Limnichthyidae). New Zealand Journal of Zoology 5(2): 351-364 figs 1-5 

Nelson, J.S. 1979. Some osteological differences between the blennioid fishes Limnichthys polyactis and L. rendahli, with comments on other species of Creediidae. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 6: 273-277 figs 1-3 

Nelson, J.S. 2001. Trichonotidae, Creediidae, Percophidae. pp. 3511-3516 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. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

Paulin, C. & C. Roberts, 1992. The rockpool fishes of New Zealand (Te ika aaria o Aotearoa). Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa Tongarewa). 177 pp.

Pettigrew, J.D. & Collin, S.P. (1995) Terrestrial optics in an aquatic eye: the sandlance, Limnichthys fasciatus (Creediidae, Teleostei). Journal of Comparative Physiology A 177: 397-408

Pettigrew, J. D., Collin, S. P. & Fritsches, K (2000) Prey capture and accommodation in the sandlance, Limnichthys fasciatus (Creediidae, Teleostei). J. Comp. Physiol. A 186: 247-260.

Pettigrew, J.D., Collin, S.P. & Ott, M. (1999) Convergence of specialised behaviour, eye movements and visual optics in the sandlance (Teleostei) and the chameleon (Reptilia). Current Biology 9(8): 421-424.

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.

Reader, S.E., Leis, J.M. & Rennis, D.M. 2000. Creediidae, pp 575–578. In: Leis, J.M. & Carson–Ewart, B.M. (eds) The larvae of Indo-Pacific coastal fishes: an identification guide to marine fish larvae. BRILL, Leiden. 

Schwab, I.R., Collin, S.P. & Pettigrew, J.D. 2005. Sandlance, Limnichthys fasciatus: Chameleon of the sea. British Journal of Ophthalmology 89: 4.

Shitamitsu, T. & Sunobe, T. 2017. Notes on protandry in the creediid fishes Limnichthys fasciatus and L. nitidus (Teleostei: Creediidae). Ichthyological Research 64: 365-367. doi:10.1007/s10228-016-0566-z

Waite, E.R. 1904. Additions to the fish-fauna of Lord Howe Island. No. 4. Records of the Australian Museum 5(3): 135-186 fig. 32 pls 17-24 

Waite, E.R., 1909. A list of the known fishes of Kermadec and Norfolk Islands, and a comparison with those of Lord Howe Island. Trans. N.Z. Inst. 42: 370-383.

Whitley, G.P. 1945. New sharks and fishes from Western Australia. Part 2. The Australian Zoologist 11(1): 1-42 figs 1-15 (p. 31, as Limnichthys fasciatus major). 

Whitley, G.P. 1964. Fishes from the Coral Sea and the Swain Reefs. Records of the Australian Museum 26(5): 145-195 figs 1-15 pls 8-10 (p. 151, misidentifed as Schizochirus insolens)

Yoshino, T., Kon, T. & Okabe, S. 1999. Review of the genus Limnichthys (Perciformes: Creediidae) from Japan, with description of a new species. Ichthyological Research 46(1): 73-83.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37395005

Behaviour:Burrows in sandy/rubble bottoms

Biology:Able to change sex

Depth:1-150 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:6 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map