Wilson's Weedfish, Heteroclinus wilsoni (Lucas 1891)

Other Names: Wilsons Weedfish

Wilson's Weedfish, Heteroclinus wilsoni, in Binalong Bay, Tasmania. Source: Danny Lee. License: All rights reserved

A reddish-brown to green weedfish, either uniformly coloured or with eight broken dark, vertical bars along the side that often forming saddles along the back. The bars often extend onto the dorsal and anal fins, with transparent patches in between. Eye with two almost vertical bars below, a large white to silver spot sometimes behind the eye, and a white to pale crescent shaped bar on the pectoral-fin base.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Heteroclinus wilsoni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 09 Apr 2020,

Wilson's Weedfish, Heteroclinus wilsoni (Lucas 1891)

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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.

Species Citation

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


Bray, D.J. 2017


Australian Faunal Directory

Wilson's Weedfish, Heteroclinus wilsoni (Lucas 1891)


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

Biology:Live bearer

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-25 m

Habitat:Reef associated, kelp beds

Max Size:14 cm TL


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