Pencil Coffinfish, Chaunax penicillatus McCulloch 1915

Other Names: Fluffylure Frogmouth

Pencil Coffinfish, Chaunax penicillatus. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

An orange to reddish coffinfish with yellow vermiculations and some deep reddish saddle-like bands on the back. The illicium is very short and retracts into within a black, very deep illicial trough. The esca has many stout black cirri above and white cirri below.
The Pencil Coffinfish is the most widely-distributed species of Chaunax in the Indo-Pacific region. 

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Chaunax penicillatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 Sep 2023,

Pencil Coffinfish, Chaunax penicillatus McCulloch 1915

More Info


West of Bernier Island to south of Scott Reef, Western Australia, and the Torres Strait, Queensland, to east of Maria Island, Tasmania. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in the Indo-west Pacific: East Africa and Madagascar east to French Polynesia, north to southern Japan, south to New Zealand Kermadec Islands and Chatham Rise).


Dorsal-fin rays III, 11–12 (modally 12); anal-fin rays 6–7 (7); pectoral-fin rays 11–13. A species in the C. pictus-species group with a black and very deep illicial trough, an extremely short illicium and esca with numerous stout black (anterior face) and white (posterior face) cirri. Gill rakers: GRi = 13–14 (3–4 + 9–10); GRii = 8–10; GRiii = 8–11; GRiv = 7–8.



The specific name is from the Latin penicillatus (= brush-like), presumably in reference to the 'rostral tentacles' (illicium and esca) of the type specimens, described by McCulloch as "short thick peduncles, which are densely fimbriated".

Species Citation

Chaunax penicillatus McCulloch, 1915, Biol. Res. F.I.S. Endeavour 1909-1914 3(3): 167, pl. 33(2). Type locality: off Cape Everard, Victoria, depth 160-200 fathoms.


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Pencil Coffinfish, Chaunax penicillatus McCulloch 1915


Caruso, J.H. 1999. Family Chaunacidae. pp. 2020-2021 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds) The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 pp. 1397-2068. (p. 2022, as Chaunax penicillatus and C. tosaensis)

Gomon, M.F. & Ho, H.-C. 2008. Family Chaunacidae. pp. 377-379 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Ho, H.-C. 2015. 114 Family Chaunacidae. pp. 888-895 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. 2015. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 3 pp. 577-1152.

Ho, H. 2020. Chaunax penicillatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T139928991A140322596. Downloaded on 09 December 2020.

Ho, H.-C., Kawai, T. & Satria, F. 2015. Species of the anglerfish genus Chaunax from Indonesia, with descriptions of two new species (Lophiiformes: Chaunacidae). Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 63: 301-308. See ref online

Ho, H.-C. & Last, P.R. 2013. Two new species of the coffinfish genus Chaunax (Lophiiformes: Chaunacidae) from the Indian Ocean. Zootaxa 3710 (5): 436-448.

Ho, H.-C. & Ma, W.-C. 2016. Revision of southern African species of the anglerfish genus Chaunax (Lophiiformes: Chaunacidae), with description of three new species. Zootaxa 4144(2): 175-194.

Ho, H.-C., Roberts, C.D. & Stewart, A.L. 2013. A review of the anglerfish genus Chaunax (Lophiiformes: Chaunacidae) from New Zealand and adjacent waters, with descriptions of four new species. Zootaxa 3620(1): 89-111.

Ho, H.-C. & Shao, K.-T. 2010. A new species of Chaunax (Lophiiformes: Chaunacidae) from the western South Pacific, with comments on C. latipunctatus. Zootaxa 2445: 53-61.

Le Danois, Y. 1979. Révision systématique de la famille des Chaunacidae (Pisces Pediculati). UO. Japanese Society of Ichthyologists 30: 1-76.

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 3. Biological Results of the Fishing Experiments carried on by the F.I.S. Endeavour 1909-1914 3(3): 97-170 figs 1-3 pls 13-37 See ref at BHL

Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P.C. (eds) 1986. Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg : Macmillan South Africa xx + 1047 pp. 144 pls.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37211004

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:255-1395 m

Habitat:Continental slope

Max Size:29 cm SL

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