Cocky Gurnard, Lepidotrigla modesta Waite 1899

Other Names: Grooved Gurnard, Minor Gurnard, Short-finned Gurnard

Cocky Gurnard, Lepidotrigla modesta. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved

A bright red gurnard becoming whitish below, with a dark red spot on the first dorsal fin, a broad dark red band near margin of the caudal fin, and the inner surface of the pectoral fins greenish with a blue margin.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Lepidotrigla modesta in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Feb 2024,

Cocky Gurnard, Lepidotrigla modesta Waite 1899

More Info


Off Cape Hawke, New South Wales, to Kangaroo Island, South Australia, including Tasmania. Inhabits soft sediment areas in offshore waters.


Dorsal fin  IX + 15-16; Anal fin 16; Caudal fin 11; Pectoral fin 11 + 3; Pelvic fin I,5; Lateral-line scales 58-62.
Body of moderate depth (24- 28% SL) and length, thick, tapering posteriorly to slender caudal peduncle. Head small (31-36% SL), but prominent, rectangular in cross section, encased in bone; profile in front of eyes concave, especially in large specimens; eyes large (26-31% HL), interorbital extremely depressed;  mouth small (upper jaw length 34-43% HL), horizontal; teeth granular, band in each jaw; small but distinct spines on operculum, above each pectoral fin base and on bony process on each side of dorsal fin origin; a deep groove above and behind each eye, grooves just meeting on top of head; bony rostrum enclosing upper lip with distinct medial notch, each side with several moderately small spines.
Scales small, cycloid, weakly attached, covering all of body except chest; lateral line straight, closer to dorsal profile anteriorly than to lateral midline, lateral line scales enlarged with prominent side branches for pores but without prominent spines; scales along bases of both dorsal fins forming a row of enlarged thorn like bucklers.
Dorsal fin in two parts, first tall and curved, second elongate and slightly shorter but of more even height; anal fin similar to second dorsal; caudal fin with concave margin, lower lobe slightly longer than upper. Pelvic fins prominent, reaching to or just past origin of anal fin; lower three rays thick and not interconnected by membranes.  


The specific name is from the Latin modesta (= moderate, modest, unassuming), possibly in reference to the relatively shorter pectoral fin of this species compared with that of Lepidotrigla mulhalli.

Species Citation

Lepidotrigla modesta Waite 1899, Mem. Aust. Mus. 4(1): 106, pl. 23. Type locality: off Broughton Island, depth 50-66 fathoms, and off Gibbon, New South Wales.  


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Cocky Gurnard, Lepidotrigla modesta Waite 1899


Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Triglidae. pp. 494-505 figs 442-450 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. & Last, P.R. 2008. Family Triglidae. pp. 508-514 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. 

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp. 

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp.

Neira, F.J., Miskiewicz,  A.G. & Trnski, T. 1998. Larvae of temperate Australian fishes: laboratory guide for larval fish identification. University of Western Australia Press. 474 pp.

Richards, W.J. 1992. Comments on the genus Lepidotrigla (Pisces: Triglidae) with descriptions of two new species from the Indian and Pacific oceans. Bulletin of Marine Science 51(1): 45-65. See ref online

Waite, E.R. 1899. Scientific results of the trawling expedition of H.M.C.S. Thetis off the coast of New South Wales. Memoirs of the Australian Museum 4: 1-132 figs 1-10 pls 1-31

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37288007

Depth:10-308 m

Habitat:Soft sediment areas

Max Size:22 cm SL


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