Common Ponyfish, Leiognathus equulus (Forsskål 1775)

Other Names: Common Pony-fish, Narrow-banded Ponyfish

A Common Ponyfish, Leiognathus equulus, from West Papua, Indonesia. Source: Gerald R. Allen / FishBase. License: All rights reserved

A large ponyfish with a greyish back becoming silvery below, many faint close-set bars along the back, usually a dark brown saddle on the caudal peduncle, a black margin on the soft dorsal fin, and broad dusky margins on the caudal-fin lobes. Juveniles have narrow close-set grey vertical lines above the midline, a yellow anal fin, a pale yellow margin on the caudal-fin lobes, and black dots on the snout.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Leiognathus equulus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Apr 2024,

Common Ponyfish, Leiognathus equulus (Forsskål 1775)

More Info


Broome, Western Australia, to Port Clinton, Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific.
Inhabits shallow coastal waters, estuaries, mangroves and river mouths. Juveniles commonly occur in mangrove estuaries and tidal creeks, sometimes entering the lower reaches of freshwater streams. 


Dorsal fin VIII,15-16; Anal fin III,14-15; Gill rakers 18-22; Lateral line tubed scales 61-66. 
Body very deep, compressed, back strongly humped, body depth 1.7-1.9 in SL; mouth pointing downward when protracted; gill rakers short and fleshy, less than 1/2 length of corresponding gill lamellae, head and breast naked.


Feeds on polychaete worms, small crustaceans and small fishes.


The specific name is from the Latin equula (= little horse). Forsskål placed this species in the genus Scomber as he considered it to be a small mackerel which was known as a cavalla (= mare) in Spain and Portugal.

Species Citation

Scomber equula Forsskål 1775, Descriptiones Animalium: 58. Type locality: Red Sea.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Common Ponyfish, Leiognathus equulus (Forsskål 1775)


Abraham, K.J., Joshi, K.K. & Murty, V.S.R. 2011. Taxonomy of the fishes of the family Leiognathidae (Pisces, Teleostei) from the west coast of India. Zootaxa 2886: 1-18 

Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls. 

Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp. 

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls. 

Chakrabarty, P., Sparks, J.S. & Ho., H.-C. 2010. Taxonomic review of the ponyfishes (Perciformes: Leiognathidae) of Taiwan. Marine Biodiversity 40: 107-121 

Forsskål, P. 1775. Descriptiones Animalium Avium, Amphibiorum, Piscium, Insectorum, Vermium; quæ in Itinere Orientali observavit Petrus Forskål. Post Mortem Auctoris edidit Carsten Niebuhr. Adjuncta est Materia Medica Kakirina atque Tabula Maris Rubri Geographica. Hauniæ : Mölleri 1-19, i-xxxiv, 164 pp., 1 map. 

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. 

Jones, G. 1985. Revision of the Australian species of the fish family Leiognathidae. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 36: 559-613 figs 1-19 

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp. 

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 

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp. 

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp. 

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. 

Woodland, D.J., Premcharoen, S. & Cabanban, A.S. 2001. Leiognathidae. pp. 2792-2823 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. 5 2791-3379 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37341014


Depth:10-110 m

Habitat:Lower reaches of rivers

Max Size:30 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map