Southern Smiler, Opistognathus jacksoniensis Macleay 1881

Other Names: Smiler

A Southern Smiler, Opistognathus jacksoniensis, at North West Solitary Island, December 2006. Source: Ian Shaw / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A slender pale brown to yellow jawfish with irregular dark brown reticulations on the head and upper side, a dark wavy mid-lateral band, orange blotches in the corner of the mouth, a yellowish pectoral fin, and a dark brown floor to the mouth beside the tongue.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Opistognathus jacksoniensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

Southern Smiler, Opistognathus jacksoniensis Macleay 1881

More Info


Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, to Sydney, New South Wales.  Inhabits burrows in sandy and rubble areas near reefs.


Dorsal fin X,16-18; oblique scale rows in longitudinal series ~80-99; lateral line single, positioned dorsally.


Ground-color varying from rich light brown to lemon yellow, the upper surface and sides of the trunk broadly reticulated with chocolate brown, a wavy median band, which is sometimes black, being always present ; throat, breast, and belly immaculate; tail with a few irregular brown spots and wavy lines, each scale with a brown central dot. Upper surface and sides of head profusely dotted and pencilled with brown; inner posterior edges of maxillary and mandible black; distal extremity of maxillary and a broad stripe on the mandible white. Dorsal fin dark purplish brown, with a basal series of lighter spots; soft portion with an additional submarginal row of similar spots and two oblique bands posteriorly. Anal rich brown, with a light basal band. Caudal with three transverse rows of light spots. Pectoral pale yellow, profusely powdered with brown. Outer portion of pelvics purplish black (Ogilby 1920).


The specific name jacksoniensis refers to the type locality, Port Jackson, New South Wales.

Species Citation

Opisthognathus jacksoniensis Macleay 1881, Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 5(4): 570. Type locality: Port Jackson, New South Wales.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Southern Smiler, Opistognathus jacksoniensis Macleay 1881


Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp. 

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

Macleay, W.J. 1881. Descriptive catalogue of the fishes of Australia. Part 2. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 5(4): 510-629 pls 13-14 See ref at BHL

Ogilby, J.D. 1920. Edible fishes of Queensland. Parts XV. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 7(1): 1-30 See ref at BHL

Smith-Vaniz 1999. Family Opistognathidae. pp. 2588-2589 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.

Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 2004. Descriptions of six new species of jawfishes (Opistognathidae: Opistognathus) from Australia. Records of the Australian Museum 56(2): 209-224.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37388005


Depth:5-70 m

Habitat:Reef associated


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