Common name: Beardies, Cods, Moras, Morid Cods


Morids are slender cod-like marine fishes found in shallow and deep-sea environments worldwide. They have two dorsal fins (rarely three), a single long-based anal fin (rarely two) and a separate caudal fin with a narrow caudal peduncle. Some species have a short barbel under the chin. All fins lack spines. Some species are bioluminescent and have a light organ on the belly just in front of the anus.

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Dianne J. Bray, Morid cods, MORIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 22 Jun 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

A large family with more than 110 species in 18 genera; 26 described species in 13 genera have been recorded from Australian waters. A number of undescribed species are known to occur in Australian waters, and the family is in need of revision.

Family Distribution

Marine fishes found worldwide in cool temperate, temperate and tropical regions of all oceans, in depths ranging from shallow intertidal areas to abyssal depths of 3500 metres. Morids are most abundant on the continental slope in southern hemisphere waters. While a few morid species are pelagic, most are benthopelagic, swimming just above the seafloor. A few species occasionally enter estuaries. Most species have restricted distributions.

Family Description

Morids are characterised by the structure of the caudal skeleton, a well-developed connection between the swim bladder and the back of the skull, and by the shape of the otolith (ear bone). They closely resemble fishes of the family Gadidae, and species are often difficult to identify to family without examining internal characters. Morids are characterised by the structure of the tail-fin skeleton, by having a well-developed connection between the swim bladder and the back of the skull, and by the shape of the otolith (ear bone). Elongate, rather soft-bodied fishes, body tapers to a narrow caudal peduncle; head rounded, mostly circular in cross section, chin barbel sometimes present. One or two (rarely three) dorsal fins, posteriormost with an elongate base, more or less divided into 2 segments, sometimes deeply notched. One to two anal fins, commencing at mid-body, long-based, similar to soft dorsal fin. Pelvic fins small, widely separated, bases forward on chest. Caudal fin small, symmetrical, separated by gap from dorsal and anal fins. Scales small, cycloid, lateral line curving smoothly above pectoral fin. Swimbladder is uniquely modified with horn-like extensions that project forward to sound receiving parts of the skull and brain.

Family Size

To 100 cm, although most species are quite small.

Family Feeding

Morids are carnivores, and feed on a variety of benthopelagic fishes, cephalopod molluscs and crustaceans.

Family Reproduction

Little is known of morid reproduction. Females of some species have several thousand eggs in their ovaries. Larvae of a few are well-known.

Family Commercial

Morids are taken in commercial trawls, and some species are of minor commercial importance in Australian waters.

Family Conservation

Not evaluated.

Family Biology

Some morids are bioluminescent. They have a gland-like light organ on the abdomen that harbours populations of bioluminescent bacteria. The fish can control the amount of light emitted through the lens of the light organ.


Dianne J. Bray


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