Starry Seabat, Halieutaea stellata (Vahl 1797)

Other Names: Starry Handfish

Starry Seabat, Halieutaea stellata. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A pinkish to reddish seabat covered in a many dark spots forming an irregular vermiculate pattern, and red fins, sometimes with a black margin. The disc is rounded and slightly wider than long, with strongly pointed spiny tubercles on the dorsal surface and body margins.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Halieutaea stellata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 May 2024,

Starry Seabat, Halieutaea stellata (Vahl 1797)

More Info


Off north Western Australia, to off the Northern Territory, and off central Queensland to off Newcastle, New South Wales. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific.


Dorsal fin 4; Anal fin 4; Pectoral fin 13; Pelvic fin 5; Caudal fin 9. 
Body with a broad circular depressed disc; tail shorter than disc; front of head slightly convex; interorbit space broader than eye diameter; mouth large, anteriorly to head; rostrum not projecting in front of disc, esca visible from above; esca with two not well-separated ventral lobes and a dorsal flap, thin fringe present on entire ventral edge of esca; gill 2 1/2. 
Dorsal surface covered with stout, simple spines, most with four or more roots, those on disc edge including tail spines with 3-5 sharp points; dermal spinules covering disc between tubercles; ventral surface covered with numerous dermal spinules.


The specific name is from the Latin stellatus (= covered with stars, starry), in reference to the star-shaped tubercles covering the dorsal surface.

Species Citation

Lophius stellatus Vahl 1797, Skrifter af Naturhistorie-Selskabet. Kjøbenhavn 4(1): 214, pl. 3(3, 4). Type locality: China.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Starry Seabat, Halieutaea stellata (Vahl 1797)


Bradbury, M.G. 1999. Family Ogcocephalidae. pp. 2023-2025 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. 

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. 

Ho, H. 2020. Halieutaea stellata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T140331376A140859602. Accessed on 05 July 2022.

Ho, H.-C., Roberts, C.D. & Shao, K.-T. 2013. Revision of batfishes (Lophiiformes: Ogcocephalidae) of New Zealand and adjacent waters, with description of two new species of the genus Malthopsis. Zootaxa 3626(1): 188-200 

Ho, H.-C. & Shao, K.-T. 2008. The batfishes (Lophiiformes Ogcocephalidae) of Taiwan, with descriptions of eight new records. Journal of the Fisheries Society of Taiwan 35(4): 289-313.

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 

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. 

Vahl, M. 1797. Beskrivelse tvende nye arter af Lophius (L. stellatus og L. setigerus). Skrifter af Naturhistorie-Selskabet. Kjøbenhavn 4(1): 212-216

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37212028

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:50-600 m

Habitat:Soft sediment areas

Max Size:25 cm

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