Longray Spiderfish, Bathypterois longifilis Günther 1878

Other Names: Feeler Fish, Feelerfish

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


A pale spiderfish with tiny laterally-directed eyes, dark scale margins especially on the upper body, a dark head, anterior chest and mouth cavity, dark dorsal, anal and pelvic fins with pale outer margins, a mostly dark caudal fin, and pale pectoral fins. The upper 3-4th pectoral-fin rays are longer than the body and divided posteriorly. The anterior pelvic-fin rays are elongate, divided and thickened posteriorly.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Bathypterois longifilis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 26 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/3324

Longray Spiderfish, Bathypterois longifilis Günther 1878

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Off southern Queensland to off southern New South Wales, and the Lord Howe Rise and Norfolk Ridge in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs around New Zealand. Inhabits deep soft sediment areas on the continental slope and abyssal plain. In Australian waters, the species has been collected from depths of 995-1043 m, while elsewhere it is known to occur at depths to 5000 m.


Dorsal fin 13-14; Anal fin 9-10; Pectoral fin 20-21; Pelvic fin 8-9; Lateral-line scales 58-62; Gill rakers 36-41 (12 = 24-29); Branchiostegal rays 11-12; Vertebrae 56-60.
Body robust, 25-26% SL; head moderately large. Pectoral fins modified into separate upper and lower parts; upper with 2 vestigial rays at base, third and fourth rays united anteriorly, divided posteriorly, and extremely elongate, 115% SL, and 2 shorter rays below; 12-13 'normal' rays in lower part. Pelvic fin base before dorsal fin, longest rays thickened posteriorly, longest ray 22-41% SL. Lower lobe of caudal fin slightly longer than upper lobe. Underside of caudal-fin base with a small subcaudal notch.


Feeds on small planktonic crustaceans, fishes and squid detected with the long pectoral-fin rays.


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.  
Underwater ROV images have shown the trails made when these fishes 'walk' over the seafloor on their pelvic fins and lower tail fin lobe.


The specific name longifilis is from the Latin longus (= long) and filum (= thread) in reference to the thickened upper-most pectoral-fin ray that is longer that the actual fish.

Species Citation

Bathypterois longifilis Günther 1878, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 5 2(2, 22, 28): 183. Type locality: near the Kermadec Islands, 29°40'-30'S, 178°05'-15'W, Challenger station 170-170A, depth 520 and 620 fathoms.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Longray Spiderfish, Bathypterois longifilis Günther 1878


Amaoka, K., Matsuura, K., Inada, T., Takeda, M., Hatanaka, H. & Okada, K. (eds). 1990. Fishes collected by the R/V Shinkai Maru around New Zealand. Japan Marine Fishery Resource Research Center. pp. 1-410.

Ayling, T. & Cox, G.J. 1982. Collins' guide to sea fishes of New Zealand. Collins. Auckland. 343 pp.

Gomon, M.F. 2015. Family Ipnopidae. pp. 562-565 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 2 pp. 1-576.

Günther, A. 1878. Preliminary notices of deep-sea fishes collected during the voyage of H.M.S. Challenger. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 5 2(2, 22, 28): 17-28, 179-187, 248-251 See ref at BHL

Günther, A. 1887. Report on the deep-sea fishes collected by H. M. S. Challenger during the years 1873-76. Report on the Scientific Results of the Voyage of H. M. S. Challenger 22(57): i-lxv + 1-268, Pls. 1-66. https://doi.org/10.5962/bhl.title.6513

Holleman, W., Fennessy, S., Russell, B. & Maunde, C. 2020. Bathypterois longifilis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T123323359A123323690. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-1.RLTS.T123323359A123323690.en. Accessed on 12 August 2022.

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 figs 1-32 pls 1-7

Sulak, K.J. & Shcherbachev, Y.N. 1988. A new species of tripodfish, Bathypterois (Bathycygnus) andriashevi (Chlorophthalmidae), from the western South Pacific Ocean. Copeia 1988(3): 653-659 https://doi.org/10.2307/1445383

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37123002


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:900-1200 m


Max Size:35 cm SL

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