Yellow Crested Weedfish, Cristiceps aurantiacus Castelnau 1879

Other Names: Crested Weedfish, Crested Weed-fish, Golden Weedfish, Yellow-crested Weedfish

A Yellow Crested Weedfish, Cristiceps aurantiacus, in Nelson Bay, Port Stephens, New South Wales, December 2015. Source: Ian Shaw / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A mottled yellow, to brownish, reddish-brown or greenish weedfish, with a distinct dark oblique bar from the eye to below the rear of the upper jaw, sometimes scattered dark brown spots and faint irregular brown bands on the body. The dorsal fin originates before both the middle of the eye and the orbital tentacle, and is not connected to the second dorsal fin. The orbital tentacle is simple or has small lateral lobes, and is longer than the eye diameter, and the nasal tentacles are branched.

Video of a Yellow Crested Weedfish at Clifton Gardens, Sydney Harbour.

Video of a Yellow Crested Weedfish camouflaged amongst kelp.

A Yellow Crested Weedfish (aka Golden Weedfish) in the Batemans marine Park, southern New South Wales.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Cristiceps aurantiacus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 May 2024,

Yellow Crested Weedfish, Cristiceps aurantiacus Castelnau 1879

More Info


Eastern and western Australia, from Southport, Queensland, to the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia, and from the Recherche Archipelago to Geraldton, Western Australia; also Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in New Zealand.

Inhabits rock pools and subtidal rocky reefs in bays, harbours and coastal waters. Yellow Crested Weedfish often occur in kelp beds or other macroalgae, or shelter amongst loose weeds on adjacent sandy areas.


Dorsal fin III, XXIX-XXX, 6-7; Anal fin  II, 24-25; Caudal fin 10 (segmented rays); Pectoral fin 11; Pelvic fin I, 3; Lateral line 20-22 (arched portion) + 32-38 (straight portion); Gill rakers 1-2 + 6-7 = 8-10; Vertebrae 15 (precaudal).

Head length 23-25% SL; eye diameter 3-4% SL; snout length greater than eye diameter, 5-7% SL; mouth to below middle of eye in young, to below and behind rear margin of eye in adults, length 10-12% SL; orbital tentacle simple or with small lateral lobes, length greater than eye diameter, 3.5-5.0 % SL.

First dorsal fin elevated, second fin spine 17-21% SL, fin origin before middle of eye and orbital tentacle, not connected by membrane to base of second dorsal fin; second dorsal-fin origin below or just behind rear edge of preopercle, flaps posteriorly from dorsal-fin spines completely bound in membrane, posterior dorsal-fin rays usually not elongate or reaching to caudal fin in adults, only rarely to caudal-fin base - giving the rear of fin a truncate appearance; last 2 rays of both dorsal fin and anal fin grouped closer together than to previous rays; pelvic fins with a tiny spine and 3 rays, the tip about 2/3 way to anus, inner fin ray more than half length of second ray.


To a maximum total length of 18 cm.


Reddish-brown, brown, or green, sometimes with scattered dark brown spots; dark brown oblique narrow bar, sometimes with silver leading edge, from underside of eye to just past rear end of jaws; often with 5-6 faint narrow irregular vertical brown bands on side onto dorsal and anal fins; sometimes silver patches anteriorly on side or head; front of 1st dorsal fin dark brown, paler posteriorly; 2nd dorsal and anal fins with broad brown vertical bands or uniformly coloured, usually with clear oval patches between bands and distinct oval spot just before last 2 dorsal-fin rays; pelvic and caudal fins mottled with irregular bands or dark brown with clear or white areas.


Feeds on small fishes and crustaceans.


Weedfish have internal fertilisation and give birth to live young (viviparous).


The specific name is from the Latin aurantiacus (= orange), in reference to the “beautiful orange colour..." of this species. 

Species Citation

Cristiceps aurantiacus Castelnau 1879, Proc. Linn. Soc. N. S. W. 1 3(4): 386. Type locality: Kiama, New South Wales.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Yellow Crested Weedfish, Cristiceps aurantiacus Castelnau 1879


Castelnau, F.L. de 1879. Essay on the ichthyology of Port Jackson. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 3(4): 347-402 See ref at BHL

Clements, K.D., Holleman, W. & Williams, J.T. 2014. Cristiceps aurantiacus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T178972A1554122. Downloaded on 17 August 2016. 

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

Hector, J. 1902. Notes on New Zealand fishes. Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 34(26): 239-241, Pls. 14-15. (described as Auchenopterus aysoni) See ref at BHL

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds) The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.

Hoese, D.F., Gomon, M.F. & Rennis, D.S. 2008. Family Clinidae. pp. 696-722 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp. 

Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs. 

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp. 

Kuiter, R. & Kuiter, S. 2018. Coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 pp.

Macleay, W.J. 1881. Descriptive catalogue of the fishes of Australia. Part 3. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 6(1): 1-138 pls 1-2 (described as Cristiceps pictus) See ref at BHL

Marshall, T.C. 1964. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coastal Waters of Queensland. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 566 pp. 136 pls.

Paulin, C.D. & Roberts, C.D. 1992. The rockpool fishes of New Zealand. Te ika aaria o Aotearoa. Wellington : Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa 177 pp.

Paulin, C., Stewart, A., Roberts, C. & McMillan, P. 1989. New Zealand fish: a complete guide. National Museum of New Zealand Miscellaneous Series 19: 1-279

Rennis, D., Hoese, D.F. & Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Clinidae (pp. 741-775, figs 650-684) in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H (eds) The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Thomson, J.M. 1978. A Field Guide to the Common Sea & Estuary Fishes of Non-tropical Australia. Sydney : Collins 144 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37416017

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:2-30 m

Habitat:Reef associated, kelp, seagrass

Max Size:18 cm TL

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map