Southern Pygmy Leatherjacket, Brachaluteres jacksonianus (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)

A male Southern Pygmy Leatherjacket, Brachaluteres jacksonianus, in Port Stephens, New South Wales, November 2013. Source: Ian Shaw / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A small deep-bodied leatherjacket with highly variable coloration, ranging from pale yellowish-brown, to orange or dark green, with numerous darker and lighter lines, spots and ocelli, providing excellent camouflage. 
Courtship displays of Southern Pygmy Leatherjackets
Southern Pygmy Leatherjackets at Clifton Gardens, Sydney Harbour

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Brachaluteres jacksonianus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 02 Dec 2022,

Southern Pygmy Leatherjacket, Brachaluteres jacksonianus (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)

More Info


Southern half of Australia from Stradbroke Island, Queensland, to Cervantes, Western Australia, including Tasmania.
Inhabits bays, estuaries and sheltered coastal reefs, usually around piers and jetties, or among seagrass and macroalgae.


Dorsal fin I + 24-28; Anal fin 22-27; Caudal fin 12; Pectoral fin 10-12; Vertebrae 20.
Body almost circular body; abdomen inflatable; skin covered in velvety spinules; first dorsal fin a single smooth spine that cannot be locked in an erect position; anal fin and second dorsal fin opposite, both with unbranched rays. 


Males attain sexual maturity at < 4 cm TL and females at < 3 cm TL. Fertilized eggs measure 0.74 mm in diameter and each clutch contains 50–191 eggs.
Males often inflate the ventral flap and display different colours during courtship. 


Pygmy leatherjackets are often seen attached to sponges and algal fronds when they sleep.

Similar Species

The similar Taylor's Pygmy Leatherjacket, Brachaluteres taylori, has a small second dorsal-fin spine (vs a single spine in B. jacksonianus), and fine dark lines along the head and body (vs wider dark stripes along the sides in B. jacksonianus).


The species is named jacksonianus for the type locality, Port Jackson.

Species Citation

Balistes jacksonianus Quoy & Gaimard 1824, Voyage autour du Monde Vol. 1: 209. Type locality: Sydney, Port Jackson, New South Wales.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Southern Pygmy Leatherjacket, Brachaluteres jacksonianus (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)


Bleeker, P. 1865. Atlas Ichthyologique des Indes Orientales Néerlandaises, publié sous les auspices du Gouvernement colonial néerlandais. Tome 5. Baudroies, Ostracions, Gymnodontes, Balistes. Amsterdam : Fréd. Müller 152 pp. pls 194-231. 

Castelnau, F.L. de 1873. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. 8. Fishes of Western Australia. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 2: 123-149 (described as Monacanthus distortus, type locality - 'Rivière des Cygnes' near Fremantle, WA) See ref at BHL

Günther, A. 1870. Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the Physostomi, containing the families Gymnotidae, Symbranchidae, Muraenidae, Pegasidae, and of the Lophobranchii, Plectognathi, Dipnoi, [thru] Leptocardii, in the British Museum. London : British Museum Vol. 8 549 pp. (described as Monacanthus oculatus, type locality - Port Lincoln, SA) See ref at BHL

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds) The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services

Hutchins, J.B. 1977. Descriptions of three new genera and eight new species of monacanthid fishes from Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 5(1): 3-58 figs 1-13 See ref online

Hutchins, J.B. 1994. Family Monacanthidae. pp. 866-891 figs 767-787 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. 

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Biodiversity of shallow reef fish assemblages in Western Australia using a rapid censusing technique. Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 247-270 See ref online

Hutchins, J.B. 2008. Family Monacanthidae. pp. 822-841 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs.

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

Kawase, H. 2005. Spawning behavior of the pygmy leatherjacket Brachaluteres jacksonianus (Monacanthidae) in southeastern Australia. Ichthyological Research 52(2): 194-197

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. 437 pp.

Kuiter, R. & Kuiter, S. 2019. Coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 pp.

Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs.

Marshall, T.C. 1953. Ichthyological notes. No. 2. Department of Harbours and Marine. Queensland 2: 48-63 pls 1-3

Matsuura, K. 2014. Taxonomy and systematics of tetraodontiform fishes: a review focusing primarily on progress in the period 1980 to 2014. Review for IPFC9 Special Issue. Ichthyological Research 62(1): 72-113.

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp. 

Quoy, J.R.C. & Gaimard, J.P. 1824. Chapter 8. Poissons. 183-328 pls 43-65 in Freycinet, L.C.D. de (ed.) Voyage autour du Monde, entrepris par ordre du Roi, exécuté sur les corvettes de S.M. Uranie et la Physicienne, pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820. Paris : Pillet Aîné Vol. 1 712 pp. 96 pls. See ref at BHL

Richardson, J. 1846. Ichthyology. 53-74 pls 31-41, 43-44 & 53 (part) in Richardson, J. & Gray, J.E. (eds). The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror under the Command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross, R.N., F.R.S., during the years 1839–43. London : E.W. Janson Vol. 2 139 pp. (described as Aleuteriusbaueri and Aleuterius trossulus, type localities - Australia, and Swan River, WA) See ref online

Scott, E.O.G. 1969. Description of Brachaluteres wolfei, sp. nov. (Aluteridae) and first Tasmanian record of Urolophus paucimaculatus Dixon, 1969 (Urolophidae). Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 103: 35-45 (described as Brachaluteres wolfei, type locality - Mid-western end of Schouten Passage in line between Weatherhead Point and Supply Rock, eastern Tas, depth 10 fathoms) See ref online

Swainston, R. 2011. Swainston's Fishes of Australia: The complete illustrated guide. Camberwell, Victoria : Penguin Australia 836 pp. 

Whitley, G.P. 1931. New names for Australian fishes. The Australian Zoologist 6(4): 310-334 1 fig. pls 25-27 (described as Brachaluteres fidens, type locality - Shellharbour, NSW) See ref at BHL

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37465025

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-40 m

Habitat:Reef associated, seagrass beds

Max Size:10 cmTL


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CAAB distribution map