Sharpnose Weed Whiting, Siphonognathus caninis (Scott 1976)

Other Names: Sharp-nose Rockwhiting, Sharp-nose Weed Whiting, Sharp-nosed Weed Whiting

A male Sharpnose Weed Whiting, Siphonognathus caninis, in Rapid Bay, South Australia, June 2019. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

Males and females of this rarely seen weed whiting have different colour patterns. Juveniles and females are reddish to reddish-brown or green with similar colored patches on the fins, and an irregular pearly midlateral stripe. Larger females often have two black spots near the caudal-fin base.

Males are yellowish-orange to green, with four to five fine bluish-white stripes along the head and sides. The dorsal fin is blue anteriorly, with a prominent black blotch on the middle of the fin and three horizontal blue lines on the soft-rayed portion. The anal fin has three blue lines, and the caudal fin has blue spots.

In both males and females, the rear part of the dorsal and anal fins are transparent, and females have transparent patches in the caudal fin.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Siphonognathus caninis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jun 2024,

Sharpnose Weed Whiting, Siphonognathus caninis (Scott 1976)

More Info


Endemic to southern Australia from eastern Bass Strait ,Victoria, to Port Denison, Western Australia, and northeastern Tasmania including King and Flinders islands.

Inhabits shallow inshore algal covered areas on or between rocky reefs to about 35 m, usually at or below 15 m. Although rarely seen, this species inhabits clear coastal waters, where diving conditions may be difficult. It often occurs on rocky reefs and drop-offs near the bottom in fine brown and red algae zones or in deeper areas with sparse seagrass. In Western Australia, the species has been recorded from Amphibolis griffithii and Posidonia coriacea seagrass beds.


Dorsal fin XV- XVI, 11-13; Anal fin III, 10-12; Caudal fin 11-12; Pectoral fin 13-14; Pelvic fin I, 4; Lateral line scales 41-49.

Body shallow (15-17% SL) slightly elongate, compressed; caudal peduncle of moderate length and depth (caudal peduncle depth 43-58% caudal peduncle length).  Head elongate (31-43% SL), snout elongate (31-43% HL), sharply pointed;  eyes moderately small (17-23% HL);  mouth small (upper jaw length 17-27% HL), horizontal, reaching just more than half way to front edge of eyes;  teeth mostly fused into a pavement-like beak, except for one or more pairs of enlarged canines near the front of each jaw.

Scales small, cycloid, covering body and part of head including most of opercle and rear portion of cheek, predorsal scales reaching forward about halfway between dorsal fin origin and rear edge of eye;  lateral line nearly straight but with low dorsal curve above pectoral fin. 

Single long-based dorsal fin with a deep notch between the spinous and soft portions; anal fin opposite, similar to, but slightly smaller than soft portion of dorsal; caudal fins slightly rounded in juveniles, broadly pointed in adults. Pectoral fins rounded. Pelvic fins small, arising slightly behind and below pectoral fin origin.


Juveniles and females red, brown or green including patches on fins which increasingly cover the fin with growth; head and sides with a broken dark-edged pearly midlateral stripe; upper sides often with other pearly markings; caudal fin in larger specimens often with two black spots near base; fins otherwise clear.

Males yellowish-orange to green including fins, with four or five bluish-white horizontal lines on the head and sides; dorsal fin with blue membrane at anterior end, a prominent black blotch centrally, and three horizontal blue lines on the soft ray portion; anal fin with three blue lines; caudal fin with blue spots.


The Sharpnose Weed Whiting is a protogynous hermaphrodite, with females changing sex to become males during their life cycle.

Species Citation

Parodax caninus Scott, 1976, Rec. West. Aust. Mus., 4(4): 367, fig. 6. Type locality: Fremantle, Western Australia.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Atlas of Living Australia

Sharpnose Weed Whiting, Siphonognathus caninis (Scott 1976)


Clements, K.D., Alfaro, M.E., Fessler, J.L. & Westneat, M.W. 2004. Relationships of the temperate Australasian labrid fish tribe Odacini (Perciformes; Teleostei). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32: 575–587.

Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Odacidae. pp. 700-710 figs 612-621 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.

Gomon, M.F. & Paxton, J.R. 1986. A revision of the Odacidae, a temperate Australian-New Zealand labroid fish family. Indo-Pacific Fishes 8: 1-57 figs 1-21 pls 1-6 [dated 1985]

Gomon. M.F. 2008. Family Odacidae. pp. 659-667 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161, in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds.) The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth, Western Australia.

Hutchins, J.B. 1994. A survey of the nearshore reef fish fauna of Western Australia's west and south coasts — The Leeuwin Province. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 46: 1-66 figs 1-6 

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

Hutchins, J.B. 2005. Checklist of marine fishes of Recherche Archipelago and adjacent mainland waters. pp. 425-449 in Wells, F.E., Walker, D.I. & Kendrick, G.A. (eds). Proceedings of the Twelfth International Marine Biological Workshop: The Marine Flora and Fauna of Esperance, Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum.

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

Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2010. Labridae fishes: wrasses. Seaford, Victoria, Australia : Aquatic Photographics pp. 398. (as Parodax caninus)

MacArthur, L.D. & Hyndes, G.A. 2001. Differential use of seagrass assemblages by a suite of odacid species. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 52: 79-90.

Russell, B., Clements, K.D., Choat, J.H., Myers, R., Rocha, L.A., Lazuardi, M.E., Muljadi, A., Pardede, S. & Rahardjo, P. 2012. Siphonognathus caninis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T190680A17774148. Downloaded on 13 June 2019.

Scott, J.K. 1976. A review of the fish genus Neoodax (Odacidae) of Western Australia with descriptions of a closely allied new genus and species. Records of the Western Australian Museum 4(4): 349-373 figs 1-6

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37385011


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:5-35 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:10 cm SL


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