Common name: Guitarfishes



Guitarfishes have a flattened body, a narrow to broadly triangular snout forming a flattened disc with the large angular or rounded pectoral fins, a robust tail with two well-developed dorsal fins and a prominent shark-like caudal fin. The elongate snout has a median cartilaginous support.

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Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Guitarfishes, RHINOBATIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jul 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

About 48 species of guitarfishes in five genera are currently recognized worldwide. Eight species in four genera are known from Australian waters (Eschmeyer & Fong, 2012).

Family Distribution

Guitarfishes are benthic in shallow tropical to temperate marine waters worldwide, and some species occasionally enter estuaries and freshwater. 

Family Description

Although rather flattened with a ventral mouth, the tail is thick, carries two dorsal fins and one caudal fin and lacks venomous spines.

Family Size

Maximum size is almost 3 m.

Family Feeding

Guitarfishes are carnivores, and feed on fishes and a range of benthic invertebrates including crustaceans and molluscs. 

Family Reproduction

Guitarfishes have an ovoviparous mode of reproduction. The embryos develop inside eggs and hatch within the mother before they are born live and fully developed.

Family Commercial

Commercially fished in parts of their range.

Family Conservation

The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Redlist status has been evaluated for many species in the family Rhinobatidae. IUCN


Bray, D.J. 2017


Bigelow, H.B. & Schroeder, W.C. (1953). Sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates and rays. in Parr, A.E. (ed.) Fishes of the Western North Atlantic. Mem. Sears Fndn. Mar. Res. 1(2): 1–514 figs 1–117.

Compagno, L.J.V. & Hamlett, W.C. (eds). 1999. Checklist of Living Elasmobranchs. Sharks, Skates, and Rays: The Biology of Elasmobranch Fishes. 471-498

Compagno, L.J.V. & Last, P.R. (1999). Families Pristidae, Rhinidae, Rhinobatidae, Platyrhinidae.  pp. 1410–1432 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

Eschmeyer, W.D. & J.D. Fong. 2012. Species of Fishes by family/subfamily. On-line version dated 15 March 2012.

Fowler, H.W. (1941). Contributions to the biology of the Philippine Archipelago and adjacent regions. The fishes of the groups Elasmobranchii, Holocephali, Isospondyli and Ostariophysi obtained by the United States Bureau of Fisheries Steamer Albatross in 1907 to 1910, chiefly in the Philippine Islands and adjacent seas. Bull. U.S. Natl. Mus. 100(13): 1–879 figs 1–30

Last, P.R. & Séret, B.. 2016. 12 Banjo Rays Family Trygonorrhinidae (pp. 117-126), in Last, P.R., White, W.T., de Carvalho, M.R., Séret, B., Stehmann, M.F.W. & Naylor, G.J.P. (eds) Rays of the World. Melbourne : CSIRO Publishing, 800 pp.

Moore, A.B.M. 2017. Are guitarfishes the next sawfishes? Extinction risk and an urgent call for conservation action. Endangered Species Research 34: 75–88 PDF available, open access