Common name: Bigeye Dories, Lookdown Dories



Very compressed deep-bodied fishes, with large heads, large highly protrusible mouths and large eyes located near the dorsal profile. They have a row of enlarged 'zipper-like' scales along the ventral surface and low scaly sheaths at the dorsal and anal-fin bases. The family comtains a single genus with three species and all are found in southern Australia.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Bigeye Dories, CYTTIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jul 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

The Cyttidae comprise a single genus, Cyttus, with three species, all of which occur in Australian waters.The cyttids were recently redefined by Tyler et al. (2003).

Family Distribution

These benthic fishes are trawled in depths to 600 m on the continental shelf and slope in temperate waters of southern Australia.

Family Description

Look-down Dories have extremely compressed, oval-shaped bodies with large, highly protrusible jaws and moderate-sized eyes. They are characterised by having slightly enlarged scutes in a ‘zipper-like’ pattern from the isthmus to the pelvic fin origin or anus. 

Family Size

Cyttids grow to a maximum length of 50 cm.

Family Colour

Silvery fishes, often with pinkish fins.

Family Feeding

Carnivores with greatly protrusible jaws used ot capture their prey - feed on other fishes and invertebrates.

Family Reproduction

The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external.

Family Commercial

Cyttids are commercially important in Australia and overseas.

Family Conservation

Not evaluated.


Dianne J. Bray


Bray, D.J. (1983). Revision of the fish family Zeidae. Unpublished MSc Thesis, Macquarie University, Sydney 160 pp. 27 figs

Heemstra, P.C. (1980). A revision of the zeid fishes (Zeiformes : Zeidae) of South Africa. Ichthyol. Bull. J.L.B. Smith Inst. 41: 1–18 figs 1–5 pls 1–2

Heemstra, P.C. (1999). Families Parazenidae, Macrocyttidae, Zeidae, Grammicolepididae, Caproidae. pp. 2257–2261 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. 4 pp. 2069–2790

Heemstra, P.C. (2003). Families Parazenidae, Zeniontidae, Zeidae, Oreosomatidae, Grammicolepidae. pp. 1203–1216 in Carpenter, K.E. (ed.) The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Atlantic. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes.Rome : FAO Vol. 2 pp. 602–1373

McCulloch, A.R. (1911). Report on the fishes obtained by the F.I.S Endeavour on the coasts of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Part 1. Zool. (Biol.) Res. Endeavour 1(1): 1–87 figs 1–20 pls 1–16

Tyler, J.C., O’Toole, B. & Winterbottom, R.W. (2003). Phylogeny of the genera and families of zeiform fishes, with comments on their relationships with tetraodontiforms and caproids. Smithson. Contrib. Zool. 618: 1–110