Common name: Crestfishes, Bandfishes



Rare, elongate oceanic deepwater fishes with a conspicuous crest or horn on the snout. They are unique in having a specialised gland near the anus which releases a dark 'ink-like' fluid.

These pelagic fishes are found in tropical to temperate seas worldwide, in depths from the surface to 300 m.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Crestfishes, LOPHOTIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 01 Dec 2022,

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Family Taxonomy

Very small family with 2 genera and 2 or 3 recognised species; 2 genera and 2 species in Australian waters.

Family Distribution

Cosmopolitan in most oceans; mesopelagic in depths from the surface to 300 m.

Family Description

Body elongate, compressed, front of head with a large, fleshy crest bearing an elongate spine which supprts anterior dorsal-fin rays, including an elongate second ray; mouth small, protrusible, jaws and vomer with small, conical teeth.

Dorsal fin long, extending to caudal fin, anal fin small to minute, pectoral fins moderate with horizontal base, pelvic fins minute or absent just behind pectoral-fin base, caudal fin reduced.

Lateral line with tubular scales. Ink sac present as a tubular gland overlying the hindgut; gland releases a black ink-like fluid through opeing near anus.

Family Size

Reaches 2 m in length.

Family Feeding

Carnivores - feeding on squid and small fishes.

Family Reproduction

Little is known of the biology if Lophotus. Oviparous, with pelagic eggs and larvae. The eggs of one species are 2.48 - 2.64 mm in diameter, without an oil globule. At hatching, the larvae have well-developed, protrusible jaws, pigmented eyes, functional differentiated guts, an elaborate, long anterior dorsal filament behind the head and well-developed pelvic fin elements. The dorsal crest or horn elongates considerably during larval development. Larvae are highly pigmented at all growth stages.

Juveniles have been taken in plankton tows, both at the surface and at depth, as well as from the stomachs of tuna (Eschmeyer et al. 1983; Charter and Moser 1996).

Family Commercial

Rare fishes of no interest to commercial fisheries.

Family Remarks

A black inky fluid is released from an opening near the anus, presumably for protection against predators.


Dianne J. Bray


Craig, M.T., P.A. Hastings & D.J. Pondella, II. 2004. Notes on the systematics of the crestfish genus Lophotus (Lampridiformes: Lophotidae), with a new record from California. Bull. South. Calif. Acad. Sci. 103(2): 57–65.

Charter, S.R. & H.G. Moser. 1996. Lampridiformes, Lophotidae, Radiicephalidae, Trachipteridae. In, The early stages of fishes in the California current region. California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations Atlas No. 33, pp. 659-677.

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Moser, H.G. (ed.) 1996. The Early Stages of Fishes in the California Current Region. CalCOFI Atlas No. 33 Ed. Allen Press Inc, Lawrence, Kansas. 1505 pp.

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Okiyama, M (ed.) 1988. An Atlas of the Early Stage Fishes in Japan. Tokai University Press, Tokyo. 1154 pp. [in Japanese]

Olney, J.E. 1984. Lampridiformes: development and relationships. Pp. 368-379, In Moser, H.G., W.J. Richards, D.M. Cohen, M.P. Fahay, A.W. Kendall, Jr. & S.L. Richardson (eds). Ontogeny and Systematics of Fishes. Spec. Publ. No. 1, Amer. Soc. Ichthy. Herpet., ix + 760 pp.

Olney, J.E. 1999. Lophotidae: Crestfishes (unicornfishes), p. 1970-1971. In Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem. Species identification guide for fisheries purposes. The living marine resources of the western central Pacific. Batoid fishes, chimeras and bony fishes. Part 1 (Elopidae to Linophrynidae). FAO, Rome.

Olney, J.E., G.D. Johnson & C.C. Baldwin. 1993. Phylogeny of lampridiform fishes. Bull. Mar. Sci. 52:137-169.

Olney, J.E. & A. Naplin. 1980. Eggs of the Scalloped Ribbonfish, Zu cristatus, (Pisces: Trachipteridae) in the Western North Atlantic. Copeia 1980(1):  165-166.