Common name: Deepsea Lizardfishes



These deep-sea bottom-living fishes grow to about 65 cm, and have very large toothy mouths and specialised pectoral fin rays.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Deepsea Lizardfishes, BATHYSAURIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

The family Bathysauridae comprises a single genus, Bathysaurus, with two species. A single species, Bathysaurus ferox, is known from Australian waters.

Family Distribution

Circumglobal in tropical and temperate waters between latitudes 65° N and 40° S, absent from polar regions; in Australian waters known from SE of Port Macquarie, NSW (31°46'S, 153°19'E) to SE of Shark Bay, WA (27°33'S, 112°16'E); widely distributed bottom-dwelling fishes on the continental slope and abyss in depths below 550m, usually between 1000 to 2500m, to about 1350m in Australian waters.

Family Description

Meristics: D 15-18; A 11-14; P 15-17; V 8: BR 8-13

Head & body: Head very depressed; eyes small to moderate, located well behind snout; mouth very large, upper jaw extending well beyond rear end of eye; dorsal fin about equal to head length, inserted just behind pelvic-fin insertion; dorsal adipose fin present or absent; anal fin posterior; pectoral fin with one or more prolonged rays; inner rays of pelvic fin slightly shorter than outer rays; caudal fin with a row of scale son  procurrent and principle caudal-fin rays; teeth present on vomer; gill rakers reduced to patches of spines on the arches.

Family Size

Maximum length more than 65 cm.

Family Feeding

Voracious carnivores, feeding mostly on demersal and bathypelagic fishes, and occasionally on large benthic or bathypelagic decapod crustacea.

Family Reproduction

Deepsea lizardfishes are synchronous hermaphrodites, having both male and female reproductive tissue at the same time. Reproduction is oviparous. Fecundity is high, with pelagic eggs, larvae and postlarvae. Postlarval development is thought to be gradual and prolonged in the upper midwaters, whereas transformaton from the postlarval to the benthic juvenile stage is rapid.

Family Commercial

Of no commmercial importance.

Family Conservation

Not assessed.


Dianne J. Bray


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