Wilson's Weedfish, Heteroclinus wilsoni (Lucas 1891)

Other Names: Wilsons Weedfish

Wilson's Weedfish, Heteroclinus wilsoni, at Flinders Pier, Westernport, Victoria, September 2018. Source: paul_isotope / iNaturalist.org. License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

A relatively deep-bodied reddish-brown to greenish weedfish covered in tiny white dots, either uniformly coloured or with eight broken vertical bars along the side often forming saddles along the back, bars extending onto vertical fins with transparent patches in between, a broad bar from the eye to the rear of the mouth, a large white to silver spot sometimes behind the eye, and a white to pale crescent shaped bar on the pectoral-fin base.
Wilson's Weedfish has a simple, elongate orbital tentacle, and a small, weakly bilobed nasal tentacle.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Heteroclinus wilsoni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 11 Dec 2023, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/11

Wilson's Weedfish, Heteroclinus wilsoni (Lucas 1891)

More Info


Moon Bay, southern New South Wales, to Kangaroo, Island, South Australia, and around Tasmania.
Inhabits kelp and macroalgal beds on rocky reefs at depths to 25 m.


Dorsal fin III + XXVI-XXVIII, 3; Anal fin II, 20-22; Caudal fin (segmented rays) 10-12; Pectoral fin 12; Pelvic fin I, 3; Lateral line scales 21-26 (arched portion) + 25-31 (straight portion); Gill rakers 2- 3+ 7-9 = 9-12.  

Body moderately deep (depth at anal fin origin 30 36% SL), strongly compressed; caudal peduncle very slender. Head of moderate to large size (26-30% SL); eyes of moderate size (6-8% SL); mouth of small to moderate size (upper jaw length 8-10% SL), reaching to below middle of eyes; 15-19 circumorbital head pores arranged uniserially; each orbital tentacle elongate, much longer than wide, with rounded to emarginate margin, greater than one half eye diameter in specimens over 5 cm (3-6% SL); nasal tentacles with expanded tip, weakly to strongly bilobed; gill rakers simple.

Scales on body cycloid and easily visible giving skin granulated appearance; lateral line scales extending to caudal peduncle, anterior scales overlapping, each with single median posterior pore, posterior scales not overlapping, each with median pore at either end. 

Two dorsal fins; first dorsal slightly elevated (second spine 10-16% SL), originating over middle to posterior portion of preopercles; last dorsal spine connected basally to second dorsal fin; flaps extending posteriorly from dorsal spines usually with very short, free tips, sometimes completely bound in membrane; last two dorsal rays widely separated from first soft ray; last dorsal ray connected by membrane to base of caudal fin; anal fin rays deeply incised; lower half of last anal ray connected to caudal peduncle by membrane; caudal fin rounded (18-23% SL). Pectoral fins large, rounded. Pelvic fins jugular, rays stout, extending almost to anus, inner ray of ventral fin about one half to two thirds length of second ray.


Colour variable. Body reddish brown to green, either of uniform colour or with eight broken dark, vertical bars along trunk and tail, often forming saddles dorsally and ventrally on lateral surfaces of body and extending onto dorsal and anal fins; blotches on fins separated by transparent interspaces; two almost vertical bars extending ventrally from each eye; oblique bar sometimes present on each preopercle and opercle; white to pale crescent shaped bar on mid to upper portion of each pectoral fin base; large white to silver spot sometimes present posterior to each eye; white spots sometimes present on pectoral fin bases and belly; first dorsal dark, other fins mottled.


The species is named in honour of John Bracebridge Wilson who collected the type specimen while dredging for shellfish, seaweeds and sponges near Port Phillip Heads, Victoria, Australia.

Species Citation

Cristiceps wilsoni Lucas 1891, Proc. R. Soc. Vict. 3: 10. Type locality: Port Phillip, Victoria.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Wilson's Weedfish, Heteroclinus wilsoni (Lucas 1891)


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. 

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

Kuiter, R.H. & Kuiter, S.L. 2018. Fish watchers guide to coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 pp.

Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs. 

Lucas, A.H.S. 1891. On the occurrence of certain fish in Victorian seas, with descriptions of some new species. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria ns 3(2): 8-14 pl. 3, See ref at BHL

McCulloch, A.R. 1908. Studies in Australian fishes, No. 1. Records of the Australian Museum 7(1): 36-43 pls 10-11 (as Petraites heptaeolus)

Rennis, D., Hoese, D.F. & Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Clinidae. pp. 741-775, figs 650-684B 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.

Williams, J.T., Holleman, W. & Clements, K.D. 2014. Heteroclinus wilsoni. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T178901A1545576. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T178901A1545576.en. Downloaded on 17 August 2016.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37416016

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-25 m

Habitat:Reef associated, kelp beds

Max Size:14 cm TL


Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map