Tribute Spiderfish, Bathypterois guentheri Alcock 1889

Tribute Spiderfish, Bathypterois guentheri. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A dark tripodfish with scales distinctly outlined in black, a broad white band on the body above the pelvic-fin base, and a second white band around the caudal peduncle. The head is bluish-black below, pale above, and the fins are black except the caudal fin which is white or transparent distally.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Bathypterois guentheri in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 Jul 2024,

Tribute Spiderfish, Bathypterois guentheri Alcock 1889

More Info


North-west of Shark Bay to north of Port Hedland, Western Australia, and the Coral Sea, east of Southern Small Detached Reef, Queensland, to east of Byron Bay, New South Wales; also the Cocos (Keeling) Islands territory in the eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west Pacific: South Africa east to the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, north to southern Japan, south to New Caledonia.
Inhabits grey, green and brownish-green muddy areas, and fine coral sand on the continental slope at depths to 1500 m.


Dorsal fin 13; Anal fin 11; Pectoral fin 13 visible externally, 15-16 total, formula: (ii)8(i)5; Pelvic fin 8; Caudal fin 10+9=19; Gill rakers (first arch) 11+1+27; Branchiostegal rays 11-13; Lateral-line scales ca. 48-50; Dentary lateral-line pores 7-8, moderate in size; Vertebrae (incl. urostyle) 50.
Dorsal-fin origin over vertebra 22; anal-fin origin under vertebra 28. 


Spiderfishes (family Ipnopidae) are simultaneous hermaphrodites. Individuals have an ovotestis containing functional male and female reproductive tissue. 


Individuals prop tripod-like on their long pelvic and caudal fin rays, raising their bodies off the seafloor. They face into the current, extending their long sensory pectoral fins forward to detect the movement of zooplankton such as small crustaceans that drift by in the current.  


The species is named in honour of the ichthyologist (and herpetologist) Albert Günther of the British Museum of Natural History: "I beg to name this species after Dr. Albert Günther, F.R.S., to whose monumental works all students of ichthyology must  ever remain grateful debtors.”

Species Citation

Bathypterois guentheri Alcock 1889, Annals and Magazine of Natural History 6 4(54, 57): 450. Type locality: Andaman Sea, 7.5 miles east of North Cinque Island, Investigator station 10, depth 490 fathoms.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Tribute Spiderfish, Bathypterois guentheri Alcock 1889


Alcock, A.W. 1889. Natural history notes from H.M. Indian Marine Survey Steamer Investigator, Commander Alfred Carpenter, R.N., D.S.O., commanding. — No. 13. On the bathybial fishes of the Bay of Bengal and neighbouring waters, obtained during the seasons 1885–1889. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 6 4(54, 57): 376-399, 450-461 See ref at BHL

Alcock, A.W. 1892. Illustrations of the zoology of the Royal Indian marine surveying steamer Investigator,...Fishes. Calcutta. Part 1: no p., Pls. 1-7.

Holleman, W., Fennessy, S., Russell, B. & Maunde, C. 2020. Bathypterois guentheri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T123323339A123323675. Downloaded on 18 October 2020.

O’Hara, T.D., Williams, A., Ahyong, S.T. et al. 2020. The lower bathyal and abyssal seafloor fauna of eastern Australia. Marine Biodiversity Records 13(11).

Nakabo, T. & Kai, Y. 2002. Ipnopidae, in Nakabo, T. (ed.) Fishes of Japan with pictorial keys to the species. English edition.. Tokyo : Toikai University Press Vol. 1 pp.1-866.

Sulak, K.J. 1977. The systematics and biology of Bathypterois (Pisces: Chlorophthalmidae) with a revised classification of benthic myctophiform fishes. Galathea Report 14: 49-108.

Sulak, K.J. 1986. Family No. 76: Chlorophthalmidae. pp. 261-265 in Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P.C. (eds). Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg : Macmillan South Africa xx + 1047 pp. 144 pls. See ref at BHL

Williams, A., Last, P.R., Gomon, M.F. & Paxton, J.R. 1996. Species composition and checklist of the demersal ichthyofauna of the continental slope off Western Australia (20–35º). Records of the Western Australian Museum 18: 135-155

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37123005


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:800-1500 m

Habitat:Bathydemersal, continental slope

Max Size:26 cm SL

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