Common name: Thornfishes


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Thornfishes, BOVICHTIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 Jul 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

Currently, four genera and at least 11 species are recognised (Last et al. 2002), with three genera and three described species recorded for Australia. The maximum size attained by a bovichtid in Australian waters is 36 cm.

Hardy (1988) revised the Australasian species of Bovichtus and Balushkin (2000) recognised eight species of Bovichtus with restricted distributions. The Australian species are currently under study by P. Last from CSIRO Marine Laboratories, who has indicated that there are at least two species of Bovichtus in Australia and probably two or more species of Pseudaphritis. Note that Bovichtus is often incorrectly spelled Bovichthus.

Some authors recognise the Pseudaphritidae as distinct from the Bovichtidae (Nelson 2006). The two views are discussed in Last et al. (2002). Eastman (1991) discussed radiation of the notothenioid fishes. 

Family Distribution

Bovichtids are restricted to the southern oceans in temperate regions of Australia, New Zealand and South America as well as Antarctic and Subantarctic waters.


Balushkin, A.V. 2000. Morphology, classification, and evolution of notothenioid fishes of the Southern Ocean (Notothenioidei, Perciformes). Journal of Ichthyology 40(Supplement 1): 74–109

Eastman, J.T. 1991. Evolution and diversification of Antarctic notothenioid fishes. American Zoologist 31: 93–109

Hardy, G.S. 1988. A revision of Bovichtus Cuvier, 1831 (Pisces: Bovichthyidae) from Australasia, with description of a new deepwater species from the New Zealand Subantarctic. Journal of Natural History 22: 1639–1655 figs 1–5

Last, P.R., Balushkin, A.V. & Hutchins, J.B. 2002. Halaphritis platycephala (Notothenioidei: Bovichtidae): a new genus and species of temperate icefish from southeastern Australia. Copeia 2002(2): 433-440

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp.