Kiwi Hatchetfish, Polyipnus kiwiensis Baird 1971

Kiwi Hatchetfish, Polyipnus kiwiensis - from the Wanganella Bank on the West Norfolk Ridge, Tasman Sea. Source: Robin McPhee & Kerryn Parkinson / NORFANZ Founding Parties. License: All rights reserved

A marine hatchetfish with laterally-directed eyes, a distinctive dark wavy dorsal surface, and dark caudal fin tips. The Kiwi Hatchetfish is found only in deep oceanic waters of the Tasman Sea off Australia and New Zealand.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Polyipnus kiwiensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

Kiwi Hatchetfish, Polyipnus kiwiensis Baird 1971

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Found in temperate midwaters of the Southwest Pacific, from the Tasman Sea off eastern Australia and New Zealand.

Although usually benthopelagic over the continental shelf and slope, Kiwi hatchetfish have been collected in depths of 100-1000 metres.  


Dorsal fin 11-12 (usually 12); Anal fin 16-17; Pectoral fin 15-16; Gill rakers 16-17; Vertebrae 32-34 (usually 33); Anal photophores 7-10 (usually 7-9).

Body deep, relatively robust, compressed, tapering abruptly to a short caudal peduncle; eye very large, laterally-focused eye; post-temporal spine short, simple; abdominal keel scales smooth, not extended ventrally.

First and third supra-abdominal photophores about even, raised well above second; first supra-anal photophore distinctly lower than second, which is slightly lower than third.


To 82 mm.


Broad, dark dorsal bar extending to or almost to the body midline, light stripe posterior to dorsal bar not reaching to mid-dorsal line; ventral border of dark dorsal pigment only slightly raised above supra-anal photophores; small dark pigment spots on lateral midline; caudal fin with dark tips.




Little is known of the biology of this species.

Species Citation

Polyipnus kiwiensis Baird 1971, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 142(1): 103, fig. 79.
Type locality: off New Zealand [36°50´S, 176°10´E].


Dianne J. Bray

Kiwi Hatchetfish, Polyipnus kiwiensis Baird 1971


Baird, R.C. 1971. The systematics, distribution and zoogeography of the marine hatchetfishes (family Sternoptychidae). Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard 142(1): 1-128 figs 1-80 PDF at BHL

Harold, A.S. 1994. A taxonomic revision of the sternoptychid genus Polyipnus (Teleostei: Stomiiformes) with an analysis of phylogenetic relationships. Bulletin of Marine Science 54(2): 428-534 figs 1-60

Harold, A.S. 1999. Families Gonostomatidae, Sternoptychidae, Phosichthyidae, Astronesthidae, Stomiidae, Chauliodontidae, Melanostomiidae, Idiacanthidae, Malacosteidae. pp. 1896-1917 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.

Paulin, C., A. Stewart, C. Roberts and P. McMillan, 1989. New Zealand fish: a complete guide. National Museum of New Zealand Miscellaneous Series No. 19. 279 p.

Paxton, J.R., Gates, J.E., Bray, D.J. & Hoese, D.F. 2006. Sternoptychidae. pp. 423-428 in Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3 2178 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37107015

Behaviour:Daily vertical migration


Depth:100-1000 metres


Max Size:9.5 cm SL

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