Scalyhead Threefin, Norfolkia squamiceps (McCulloch & Waite 1916)

Other Names: Lord Howe Scaly-headed Triplefin, Scalyhead Triplefin

A Scalyhead Threefin, Norfolkia squamiceps, at Kingston, Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea, December 2017. Source: mscott / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A pale grey to brown triplefin with an oblique darker reddish-brown bar edged in white below the eye, uneven brown blotches in two series along the side (the upper series larger and sometimes connected to the lower series), yellow to orange dorsal and caudal fins, and a dark brown head becoming whitish below. 
The white-spotted pectoral fins have two elongated rays. Females have oblique dark bands on the second and third dorsal fins, and uneven dark vertical bars on the caudal fin.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Norfolkia squamiceps in Fishes of Australia, accessed 01 Apr 2023,

Scalyhead Threefin, Norfolkia squamiceps (McCulloch & Waite 1916)

More Info


Northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland and reefs in the Coral Sea, to at least Byron Bay, New South Wales, also Middleton Reef, Elizabeth Reef, Lord Howe Island, and Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands. Inhabits tidepools and shallow areas on clear coral and rocky reefs.


Dorsal fin IV + XIV-XV + 10-11; Anal fin II, 20-221; Lateral line discontinuous, 21-24 + 14-19; Mandibular pores 5-6 + 1 + 5-6.
Head scaled forward to the eye and preopercle; supraorbital tentacle small and palmate. 


Pale grey to light brown body with 2 linear series of uneven brown blotches with larger dorsal series and some upper blotches joining with lower; below eye is an oblique, dark brown bar with white margin; remainder of head dark brown, blending to white ventrally; females with oblique dark bands on second and third dorsal fins, darkening as they cross rays; uneven, vertical dark bars on caudal fin; yellow or orange dorsal and caudal fins in males.

Species Citation

Gillias squamiceps McCulloch & Waite 1916, Trans. Roy. Soc. S. Aust. 40: 449, pl. 49, fig. 1. Type locality: Lord Howe Island.


Bray, D.J. 2017


Australian Faunal Directory

Scalyhead Threefin, Norfolkia squamiceps (McCulloch & Waite 1916)


Fowler, H.W. 1953. On a collection of fishes made by Dr. Marshall Laird at Norfolk Island. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 81(2): 257-267 figs 1-12 (as Norfolkia lairdi)

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.

Fricke, R 1997. Tripterygiid fishes of the western and central Pacific, with descriptions of 15 new species, including an annotated checklist of world Tripterygiidae (Teleostei). Theses Zoologicae 29: 1-607 figs 1-110 

Fricke, R. 1994. Tripterygiid fishes of Australia, New Zealand and the Southwest Pacific Ocean, with descriptions of 2 new genera and 16 species (Teleostei). Theses Zoologicae 24: 1-585 figs 1-130 

Gill, A.C. & Reader, S.E. 1992. Fishes. pp. 90-93, 193-228 in Hutchings, P. (ed.) Reef Biology. A Survey of Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, South Pacific. Canberra : Australian National Parks Vol. 3, Kowari 230 pp. 

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3) 

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 

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.

Whitley, G.P. 1956. Ichthyological notes. The Australian Zoologist 12(3): 251-261.

Williams, J. & Holleman, W. 2014. Norfolkia squamiceps. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T179065A1565676. Downloaded on 17 November 2016.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37415025

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-12 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:6.6 cm SL

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