Northern Sand Flathead, Platycephalus endrachtensis Quoy & Gaimard 1825

Other Names: Bar-tail Flathead, Bar-tailed Flathead, Flag-tail Flathead, Northern Sand Flathead, Northern-flag Tailed Flathead, Sand Flathead, Western Estuary Flathead, Yellowtail Flathead, Yellowtailed Flathead

A Northern Sand Flathead, Platycephalus endrachtensis, in the Minnamurra River estuary, New South Wales, July 2010. Source: Sascha Schultz / License: CC BY Attribution-NonCommercial

A pale brown flathead covered in small brown spots, with four or more dark horizontal bars on the tail and the upper lobe lacking a yellow blotch.

Cite this page as:
CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research & Bray, D.J. 2020, Platycephalus endrachtensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 30 Nov 2022,

Northern Sand Flathead, Platycephalus endrachtensis Quoy & Gaimard 1825

More Info


Hamelin Bay to Port Hedland, Western Australia, and Cliff Point, Queensland, to St Helens, Tasmania. Elsewhere the species occurs in Indonesia.

Records from northern Australia are likely to be misidentifications of the Yellowtail Flathead, Platycephalus westraliae


Dorsal fin I, I, VI, I or I, VII, I or I, I, VII, I, 12-13; Anal fin 13-14; Pectoral fin 18-20 (usually 19 or 20); Pelvic fin I, 5; Gill rakers 9-13 (usually 10 or 11); Lateral line scales (pored) 67-81.

Body elongate, slightly depressed. Head large (length 31-35% SL), strongly depressed, almost smooth, with several low, spineless ridges and one small preocular spine, lower edge bicarinate; eyes small (12-14% HL), iris lappet a simple elongated lobe; mouth large, reaching to level of mid-eye; teeth stout and acute, no greatly enlarged canines, teeth on vomer in a single transverse band; two strong preopercular spines at angle of preopercle, lower usually longer than upper, accessory spine usually absent on base of upper spine; interopercular flap present, finger-like. 

Scales small, finely ctenoid dorsally, cycloid ventrally, covering body and most of dorsal head; lateral line scales subequal to adjacent scales on side, ~93-109 oblique rows of scales above lateral line, anteriormost one or two scales with a small spine or ridge, a single opening on each scale.

First dorsal fin spinous with short base, first and last spines very short and separated from others. 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. Pectoral fins moderately small. Pelvic fins long, based below centre of pectoral fins.


Females to 62 cm, males smaller, reaching 38 cm.


Head and body pale brown, with many small brownish spots dorsally, four or more dark longitudinal bands on caudal fin, and upper lobe of caudal fin lacking yellow blotch when fresh. 


Feeds mostly on fishes, and also consumes large benthic crustaceans.


The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Some individuals complete their life cycles entirely within estuaries. Females grow to a much larger size than males. In the Swan Estuary, Western Australia, Northern Sand Flathead complete their entire life cycle in the estuary. They spawn between late spring and early autumn. Individuals mature by the end of their second year and live to about 9 years.


Taken by angling and seine nets in shallow coastal waters and estuaries, and by trawls over soft bottoms in shallow coastal waters.


Similar Species

The Northern Sand Flathead can be easily separated from the similar Platycephalus westraliae in having a triangular upper iris lappet (vs. broad, usually slightly bilobed, rarely pointed or mostly straight, in P. westraliae). P. endrachtensis also differs in having four or more horizontal dark bars on the caudal fin (vs. three or four in P. westraliae), and no yellow blotch on the tail.
The similar Platycephalus australis differs in having the caudal fin with two dark horizontal bars on the upper lobe and a yellow blotch on the middle (vs four or more dark bars and no yellow blotch on the fin in P. endrachtensis).


The specific name endrachtensis is derived from Eendraghtsland, an early Dutch name for Australia, and the suffix –ensis (= place), presumably in reference to the type locality of  Shark Bay, Western Australia.

Species Citation

Platycephalus endrachtensis Quoy & Gaimard, 1825, Voyage Uranie, Zool. 1825: 353, Shark Bay, Western Australia.


CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research & Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Northern Sand Flathead, Platycephalus endrachtensis Quoy & Gaimard 1825


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Coulson, P.G. 2008. The biology of three teleost species with divergent life cycle characteristics and their implications for fisheries management. PhD thesis, Murdoch University, Western Australia, 182 pp.

Coulson, P.G., Potter, I.C., Hesp, S.A. & Hall, N.G. 2007. Biological parameters required for managing Western Blue Groper, Blue Morwong and Yellowtail Flathead. Murdoch University, Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research, Perth, Western Australia. 167 pp.

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwestern Australia. Canberra: Australian Development Assistance Bureau, 406 pp.

Imamura, H. 2006. Rediagnosis of the marbled flathead, Platycephalus marmoratus (Actinopterygii: Teleostei: Platycephalidae), with comments on the composition of the type series. Species Diversity 11: 295-306.

Imamura, H. 2008. Synonymy of two species of the genus Platycephalus and validity of Platycephalus westraliae (Teleostei: Platycephalidae). Ichthyological Research 55: 399-406. doi:10.1007/s10228-008-0046-1 PDF available

Imamura, H. 2015. Taxonomic revision of the flathead fish genus Platycephalus Bloch, 1785 (Teleostei: Platycephalidae) from Australia, with description of a new species. Zootaxa 3904(2): 151-207 Abstract

Knapp, L.W. 1999. Family Platycephalidae, flatheads, pp. 2385-2421. In: K.E. Carpenter & V.H. Niem (eds). FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 4: Bony Fishes Part 2 (Mugilidae to Carangidae). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal fishes of south-eastern Australia. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu. 437 pp. (as Platycephalus arenarius)

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to sea fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. New Holland Publishers, Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia. 434 pp. (as Platycephalus arenarius)

McCulloch, A.R. (1915) Report on some fishes obtained by the F. I. S. "Endeavour" on the coasts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South and South-Western Australia, Part III. Biol. Results "Endeavour" 3(3): 97-170.

Potter, I.C. & Hyndes, G.A. 1999. Characteristics of the ichthyofaunas of southwestern Australian estuaries, including comparisons with holarctic estuaries and estuaries elsewhere in temperate Australia: A review. Australian Journal of Ecology 24: 395-421.

Potter, I.C., Beckley, L.E., Whitfield, A.K. & Lenanton, R.C.J. 1990. Comparisons between the roles played by estuaries in the life cycles of fishes in temperate Western Australia and Southern Africa. Environmental Biology of Fishes 28: 143-178.

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

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37296021

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:1-50 m

Fishing:Commercial, recreational

Habitat:Coastal, estuarine, sandy areas

Max Size:62 cm

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