Freckled Tilefish, Branchiostegus sawakinensis Amirthalingam 1969

Other Names: Spotted Tilefish, Tile-fish

Freckled Tilefish, Branchiostegus sawakinensis. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A pale reddish to yellowish tilefish becoming pale below, with 5-7 rows of small dark spots below the lateral line to beneath pectoral fins, small dark spots along the dorsal-fin base, small clear triangles along the anal-fin base, a darkly pigmented predorsal ridge, a black spot in the axil of the pectoral fin, and two narrow yellow stripes in the centre of the caudal fin.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Branchiostegus sawakinensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Freckled Tilefish, Branchiostegus sawakinensis Amirthalingam 1969

More Info


Northwest Shelf, west of Barrow Island, Western Australia, to north of Cape Wessell, Arafura Sea, Northern Territory. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west Pacific: Red Sea and eastern Africa to the Philippines and northern Australia.
Inhabits muddy and sandy areas, possibly inhabiting burrows at depths to 200 m.


Dorsal fin VII,15; Anal fin II,12; Pectoral fin 18-19; Pelvic fin I,5; Gill rakers 7+13; Lateral-line (pored scales) 47-50.
Body depth 3.3-4.0, head length 3.2-3.9 in SL; eye 4.0-4.8 in HL; predorsal ridge present; jaws extending posteriorly to under middle of pupil.
Dorsal fin low, height about 7% SL; caudal-fin margin double-emarginate.


Body with varied reddish and yellow pastel shades and 5-7 rows of dark spots from below lateral line to beneath pectoral fins; rose-violet around eye and silvery yellow below; predorsal ridge darkly pigmented; a golden area above opercle; dorsal fin with a small dark rectangular markings along its base; anal-fin membrane with small, silver-white triangles along its base; upper portion of caudal fin light with yellow rays, lower portion dark grey with 10 to 15 small yellow spots.


Taken by hook-and-line, and by trawls in parts of its range.


This species is regarded as being occasionally poisonous in the Red Sea.


The species is named for the type locality: Sawakin, Sudan, Red Sea.

Species Citation

Branchiostegus sawakinensis Amirthalingam 1969, Sudan Notes and Records 50: 129, pl. 1. Type locality: Sawakin, Sudan, Red Sea.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Freckled Tilefish, Branchiostegus sawakinensis Amirthalingam 1969


Amirthalingam, C. 1969. A new fish from the Red Sea. Sudan Notes and Records 50: 129-133

Dooley, J.K. 1999. Family Branchiostegidae. pp. 2630-2648 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. 

Dooley, J.K. & Kailola, P.J. 1988. Four new tilefishes from the northeastern Indian Ocean, with a review of the genus Branchiostegus. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 35(3): 247-260

Dooley, J.K. & Iwatsuki, Y. 2012. A new speces of deepwater tilefish (Percoidea: Branchiostegidae) from the Philippines, with a brief discussion of the status of tilefish systematics. Zootaxa 3249: 31-38

Dooley, J.K. & Rau, N. 1982. A remarkable tilefish record and comments on the Philippine tilefishes. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 28(4): 450-452.

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp. 

Heemstra, P.C. 1986. Family No. 197: Malacanthidae. pp.613-614 in Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P.C. (eds). Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg : Macmillan South Africa xx + 1047 pp. 144 pls.

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293

Psomadakis, P., Thein, H., Russell, B.C. & Tun, M.T. 2020. Field identification guide to the living marine resources of Myanmar. FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. Rome, FAO and MOALI: i-xvii + 1-694, pls. 1-58.

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1984. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37331001

Depth:30-200 m

Habitat:Soft sediment areas

Max Size:60 cm TL

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