Australian Goatfish, Upeneus australiae Kim & Nakaya 2002

An Australian Goatfish, Upeneus australiae, at Kiama, New South Wales, May 2009. Source: Sascha Schultz / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A pale brownish goatfish becoming white below, with a yellowish-brown stripe along the side, white reticulations on the body, 5-6 diagonal dark bars on the upper caudal-fin lobe, 6-8 diagonal black bars on the lower lobe, and 7 spines in the first dorsal fin.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Upeneus australiae in Fishes of Australia, accessed 18 Jul 2024,

Australian Goatfish, Upeneus australiae Kim & Nakaya 2002

More Info


Cockburn Sound, Fremantle, Western Australia, around the tropical north to at least Kiama, New South Wales. Elsewhere the species occurs off New Caledonia. Depth range 6-80 m (mostly above 40 m).


Dorsal fin VII + 9; Anal fin I, 7; Pectoral fin 13-15; Gill rakers 5-7 + 16-19; Vertebrae 24. 


Total bars on caudal fin 7–13, upper caudal-fin lobe with 5–6 brown or black bars with usually five bars distally from fork and one bar close to fin base, of similar width or narrower than the pale interspaces between bars; lower lobe with 6–8 bars of similar width as those on upper lobe, pale interspaces narrower and the 2–3 distal-most bars (one on tip) darker and wider; caudal-fin lobe bars mostly well-retained in preserved fish, especially on dorsal side of lower lobe; barbels white; body and head white–silvery or pale beige, dark beige above lateral line, a yellow–orange lateral body stripe from behind eye to caudal fin base in fresh fish; body pale brown and dorsally darkened in preserved fish.


Adults feed mostly on shrimp.

Similar Species

Upeneus australiae differs from all other species of Upeneus in having the following combination of characters: dorsal fin VII; 13–15 (mostly 14) pectoral-fin rays; 22–25 total gill rakers; caudal-peduncle depth 9.9–12 %SL and maximum head depth 20–22 %SL in adults, a yellow-orange lateral body stripe in fresh fish, white barbels, and dark oblique bars on lower caudal-fin lobe in fresh fish, the latter also present in preserved fish. 
Differs from the similar and co-occurring U. guttatus in having slightly more pectoral-fin rays, a lateral body stripe in fresh fish, and dark oblique bars on the lower caudal-fin lobe in both fresh and preserved fish. 
Differs from U. japonicus in having shorter barbels and pectoral fins, fewer gill rakers, dark oblique bars versus a broad reddish stripe on the lower caudal-fin lobe in fresh specimens, and in preserved fish the caudal-fin bars mostly retained vs. none and the body dorsally darkened vs. uniformly pale brown
Subadult Upeneus australiae differ from adults in having deeper and longer heads, shorter snouts, larger eyes, and longer pectoral fins; they differ from U. guttatus in deeper caudal peduncle, deeper head through eye, larger eyes, shorter barbels, longer caudal peduncle, and shorter caudal fin; and from U. japonicus they differ in deeper caudal peduncle, deeper and longer head, larger eyes, shorter barbels, and shallower dorsal fins.

Species Citation

Upeneus australiae Kim & Nakaya 2002, Ichthyol. Res. 49: 128, figs 1-3. Type locality: west of Island Head, QLD [22°19.73' S, 150°38.03' E]. 


Bray, D.J. 2017


Australian Faunal Directory

Australian Goatfish, Upeneus australiae Kim & Nakaya 2002


Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp. (as Upeneus asymmetricus)

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) 

Kim B.-J. & Nakaya, K. 2002. Upeneus australiae, a new goatfish (Mullidae: Perciformes) from Australia. Ichthyological Research 49: 128-132.

Randall, J.E. & Kulbicki, M. 2006. A review of the goatfishes of the genus Upeneus (Perciformes: Mullidae) from New Caledonia and the Chesterfield Bank, with a new species and four new records. Zoological Studies 45(3): 298-307.

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1984. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls. (as Upeneus asymmetricus)

Uiblein, F. & Gledhill, D.C. 2014. A new goatfish of the genus Upeneus (Mullidae) from Australia and Vanuatu, with inter- and intraspecific comparisons. Marine Biology Research 11(5): 475-491 Open access 

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37355032

Depth:6-80 m

Habitat:Sandy areas

Max Size:16 cm SL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map