Thorny Flathead, Rogadius pristiger (Cuvier 1829)

A Thorny Flathead, Rogadius pristiger, in Bali, Indonesia, April 2015. Source: zsispeo / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A brownish flathead with 3-4 darker brown to blackish saddles across the back and sides, a blackish spinous dorsal fin with black and white bands on the spines and black spots on the second dorsal fin. The pectoral fin has a white base, dark spots on the middle of the fin and a broad dark submarginal band with a narrow white margin; pelvic fin with dark spots and a narrow white margin.

Cite this page as:
Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO & Bray, D.J. 2017, Rogadius pristiger in Fishes of Australia, accessed 08 Dec 2023,

Thorny Flathead, Rogadius pristiger (Cuvier 1829)

More Info


North of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia, to east of Heron Island Queensland. Recorded elsewhere from New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Philippines, Gulf of Thailand, and northern Indian Ocean to Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, and Madagascar. Demersal in bays and coastal waters to depths of 95 m.


Dorsal fin IX or I,VIII, 10-12 (usually 11); Anal fin 10-12 (usually 11); Pectoral fin 20-24 (usually 22 or 23); V I, 5; Lateral line scales (pored) 49-55 (usually 52 or 53).

Body elongate, moderately depressed. Head large (length ~42% SL), moderately depressed, lower side of head unicarinate; supraorbital and suborbital ridges bearing many fine serrations. Preorbital spine lacking, several small serrations present; single preocular spine; ocular flap absent. Bands of villiform teeth in jaws; teeth on vomer in two separate oval patches. Preopercular spines 3-6 (usually 4 or 5), uppermost longest, with an accessory spine on base; antrorse spine long and strong; gill rakers 5-8 (usually 7). Interopercular flap absent. Scales ctenoid dorsally, cycloid on breast; oblique scale rows slanting backward above lateral line about equal to number of lateral-line scales; lateral-line scales 49-55 (usually 52 or 53), anterior 4-14 bearing a spine or ridge. scale pores of lateral line with 2 openings to the outside. First dorsal fin spinous base almost as long as base of second dorsal fin, first spine very short, attached to second spine by a low membrane, following spines much longer. Second dorsal fin with moderately long base, anterior rays longest, nearly as long as longest first dorsal spines. Anal fin similar in shape, opposite and slightly longer-based than second dorsal fin. Caudal fin truncate to rounded. Pectoral fins moderately elongate. Pelvic fins long, based below centre of pectoral fins.


Maximum total length about 21 cm, commonly to 15 cm TL.


Body and head brown dorsally, 3 or 4 dusky bands crossing back, paler ventrally. Outer posterior of spinous dorsal fin black, with a triangular light basal area towards front; soft dorsal fin with brown spots on rays. Caudal fin with a white basal band, a broad dusky submarginal band and a narrow white posterior edge; pectoral fins with base and lower edge white, upper rays with brown dash marks, middle of fin dusky.


May be taken in trawls.



Species Citation

Platycephalus pristiger Cuvier, in Cuvier & Valenciennes, 1829, Hist. Nat. Poiss. 4: 260. Type locality: New Guinea; Sulawesi [Celebes], Indonesia.


Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO & Bray, D.J. 2017


Australian Faunal Directory

Thorny Flathead, Rogadius pristiger (Cuvier 1829)


Cuvier, G.L. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1829. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 4 518 pp. pls 72-99. 

Fricke, R., Kulbicki, M. & Wantiez, L. 2011. Checklist of the fishes of New Caledonia, and their distribution in the Southwest Pacific Ocean (Pisces). Stuttgarter Beitr├Ąge zur Naturkunde. Serie A (Biologie) Neue Serie 4: 341-463 

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

Imamura, H. 2007. Rogadius mcgroutheri, a new species of flathead (Teleostei: Platycephalidae) collected from eastern Australia and New Caledonia. Ichthyological Research 54: 303-307 

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 pp. 2069-2790.

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.C. (1985) Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western AustraliaCanberra, C.S.I.R.O. Division of Fisheries Research, 375 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37296054

Biology:Venomous spines

Depth:10-95 m


Max Size:21 cm TL

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