Eastern Tadpole Coffinfish, Chaunacops spinosus Ho & McGrouther 2015

Paratype of the Eastern Tadpole Coffinfish, Chaunacops spinosus, from the Lord Howe Rise in the Western Tasman Sea - AMS I.29339-007. Source: Rohan Pethiyagoda / Australian Museum. License: CC BY Attribution

A translucent greyish tadpole-like coffin fish densely covered in fine spinules, with a short slender illicium ("fishing rod") tipped with a cluster of short cirri (esca or 'bait"). The head, belly and most of gill openings are dark bluish, and the inner gill chamber, gill membranes and gill arches are black.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Chaunacops spinosus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 10 Dec 2023, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/5166

Eastern Tadpole Coffinfish, Chaunacops spinosus Ho & McGrouther 2015

More Info


Recorded in the Australian EEZ from off the Shoalhaven Bight, New South Wales, and on the Lord Howe Rise in the Tasman Sea. The species has also been recorded from the Coral Sea between Australia and New Caledonia.


Dorsal fin 11 (all rays simple); Pectoral fin 12-14 (all rays simple); Anal fin 6, all rays simple; Caudal fin 9 (inner 6 rays branched, lower-most ray shorter than half length of neighbouring ray).
Gill rakers: on first gill arch 13-17; on second gill arch 11-13; on third gill arch 12-13; Gill rakers on fourth gill arch 9-10. 
Gill filaments: on second gill arch 27-31; on third gill arch 29-32; on fourth gill arch 39-41.
Lateral-line neuromasts complex, large and obvious, forming network on head and body: on supraorbital 9-10; on premaxilla 7; on upper preopercular 1; on infraorbital 5-7; on lower preopercular 2; on upper mental 7-8; on lower mental 2; on mandibular 3-5; on anteriorlateral-line proper 3; on supratemporal 6; neuromasts on body proper 23-26, including one on base of caudal-fin. 

Body tadpole-like, globular anteriorly, tapering posteriorly. Dorsal profile ele-vated gradually from upper jaw to posterior skull region, then descends rapidly to caudal peduncle, then rises to tip of caudal-fin. Eyes small, covered by a clear, rounded window of skin. Mouth terminal, opening upturned, almost vertical; lower jaw protruding anterior to upper jaw; rear of upper jaw extends slightly beyond anterior margin of eye. Lower part of maxilla narrow, not expanded to wider than the remaining parts. Illicium short, slender; esca a cluster of short cirri.

Similar Species

Differs from the other species of Chaunacops in fine dermal spinules mixed with simple and bifurcate spinules covering the body, and four pectoral lateral-line neuromasts. Also, the following combination of characteristics: buccal cavity greyish, semi-transparent skin and a relatively short tail (tail length 1 = 31⋅8–34⋅8% LS, tail length 2 = 15⋅7–16⋅3% LS, tail length 3 = 15⋅0–18⋅6% LS).


The specific name is from the Latin spinosus (= spiny, thorny) in reference to the fine spinules that densely cover the body.

Species Citation

Chaunacops spinosus Ho & McGrouther 2015, Journal of Fish Biology 86(3): 942, Figs 1-2. Type locality: off Shoalhaven, New South Wales, eastern Australia, western Tasman Sea, 1115 m, 34º56′S; 151º15′E.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Eastern Tadpole Coffinfish, Chaunacops spinosus Ho & McGrouther 2015


Ho, H.-C. & McGrouther, M. 2015. A new anglerfish from eastern Australia and New Caledonia (Lophiiformes: Chaunacidae: Chaunacops), with new data and submersible observation of Chaunacops melanostomusJournal of Fish Biology 86(3): 940-951. https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.12607

Roa-Varón, A. & Iwamoto, T. 2019. Chaunacops spinosus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T139922898A140322847. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-2.RLTS.T139922898A140322847.en. Downloaded on 09 December 2020.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37211012

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:to 1423 m


Max Size:11 cm SL

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