Marblefish, Aplodactylus arctidens Richardson 1839

Other Names: Keke, Kelpies, Marbled Kelpfish, Sea Carp, Seacarp, Southern Sea Carp, Southern Seacarp, Stinky Groper

A Marblefish, Aplodactylus arctidens, in Port Davey, Tasmania, February 2013. Source: Ian Shaw / License: CC BY Attribution-NonCommercial

Body grey to greenish-brown with a variable pattern of pale marbling, reticulations and markings on the body and fins.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Aplodactylus arctidens in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

Marblefish, Aplodactylus arctidens Richardson 1839

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Found in southern Australia from south of Mallacoota, Victoria, to Kangaroo Island, South Australia, and southern Tasmania. Elsewhere the species occurs in New Zealand. Inhabits shallow, weedy reefs to a depth of 20 m.


Dorsal fin XVI-IX, 16-18; Anal fin III, 6-8; Pectoral fin i, 13-14; Lateral-line scales 100-120; Gill rakers 4-8 + 11-15 = 17-22; Vertebrae 16-18=34.

Body elongate, greatest depth 3.3-4.7 in SL; head length 3.8-4.8 in SL; snout short, 2.5± 3.6 in head; dorsal profile of head rounded; orbital diameter 4.4-6.8 in head; interorbital space more or less straight or slightly convex medially, least width of interorbital 3.4-5.8 in head; least depth of caudal peduncle 1.8-2.7 in head; peduncle length 2.1-4.0 in head. Mouth small, somewhat ventral on head; lips fleshy, upper lip projecting, maxilla reaching a vertical through posterior nostril; teeth small, mainly tricuspid, a few lanceolate, in three to four rows in jaws, outermost row of teeth largest; vomerine teeth in small patch; two pairs of nostrils, anterior pair with fleshy tentaculate flaps on anteroventral margin and posteroventral margin; opercle with broad flat spine which does not extend to the fleshy margin.

Dorsal fin long-based, with elongate notch between spinous and soft parts of fin, basal length of soft dorsal fin 1.2-1.5 in length of spinous part; anal fin short, basal length 1.9-2.7 in head; pectoral fin length 0.9-1.6 in head, ventral-most 5 to 6 rays simple, fleshy; pelvic fin length 1.2-1.9 in head, rays fleshy.

Scales small, cycloid, embedded, extending on to cheeks and opercles, and forming a sheath along base of spinous dorsal fin.


Ranges in colour from grey to greenish-brown with variable whitish blotches and reticulations.


Grazes on algae (mainly reds) and also consumes small invertebrates living amongst algae.


Considered a very poor food fish with flesh described as "coarse with a rank flavor".

Species Citation

Aplodactylus arctidens Richardson 1839, Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 7: 96. Type locality: Port Arthur, Tasmania.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Australian Faunal Directory

Marblefish, Aplodactylus arctidens Richardson 1839


Burridge, C.P. 2000. Molecular phylogeny of the Aplodactylidae (Perciformes: Cirrhitoidea), a group of Southern Hemisphere marine fishes. Journal of Natural History 34(11): 2173-2185.

Burridge, C.P. & White, R.W.G. 2000. Molecular phylogeny of the antitropical subgenus Goniistius (Perciformes: Cheilodactylidae: Cheilodactylus): evidence for multiple transequatorial divergences and non-monophyly. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 70: 435-458.

Choat, J.H. & K.D. Clements. 1992. Diet in Odacid and Aplodactylid fishes from Australia and New Zealand. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43(6): 1451-1459.

Cole, R.G. 2001. Patterns of abundance and population size structure of herbivorous fishes at the subtropical Kermadec Islands and in mainland New Zealand. New Zealand Journal Marine and Freshwater Research 35: 445-456.

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp. 

Edgar, G.J. 2008. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland 2nd edn, 624 pp. 

Francis, M. 2001. Coastal Fishes of New Zealand. Auckland : Reed Publishing (NZ) 3rd edn, 103 pp. 

Gill, T.N. 1862. Synopsis of the family of cirrhitoids. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 14(3): 102-122 (as Dactylosargus arctidens)

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

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. 

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

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 

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. 

Richardson, J. 1839. Account of a collection of fishes from Port Arthur, Van Diemen's Land. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 7: 95-100 See ref at BHL

Richardson, J. 1842. Descriptions of Australian fish. Part 1. Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 3(1): 69-131 figs 4-6 (as Aplodactylus meandratus) See ref at BHL

Russell, B.C. 1983. The food and feeding habits of rocky reef fish of north-eastern New Zealand. New Zealand Journal Marine and Freshwater Research 17(2): 121-145.

Russell, B.C. 1994. Family Aploadactylidae. pp. 642-643, figs 564-565 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.

Russell, B.C. 2000. Review of the southern temperate fish family Aplodactylidae (Pisces: Perciformes). Journal of Natural History 34: 2157-2171.

Russell, B.C. 2008. Family Aplodactylidae. pp. 623-624 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Stewart, A.L. 2015. 198 Family Aplodactylidae, pp. 1344-1346 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. (eds) The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 4 pp. 1153-1748.

Taylor, R.B. & Willis, T.J. 1998. Relationships amongst length, weight and growth of north-eastern New Zealand reef fishes. Marine and Freshwater Research 49: 255-260.

Thominot, A. 1883. Note sur un poisson de genre nouveau appartenant à la famille des sparidées. Bulletin des Sciences, par la Société Philomathique de Paris 7 7: 140-141 (as Parhaplodactylus marmoratus)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37376001

Depth:0-40 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:65 cm TL

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