Tubemouth, Siphonognathus argyrophanes Richardson 1858

A Tubemouth, Siphonognathus argyrophanes, in Rapid Bay, South Australia, May 2001. Source: Ian V. Shaw / Reef Life Survey. License: CC BY Attribution


This highly camouflaged inhabitant of seagrass meadows of Australia's south and south-western coasts reaches a length of about 40 cm.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Gomon, M.F. 2018, Siphonognathus argyrophanes in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 Nov 2022,

Tubemouth, Siphonognathus argyrophanes Richardson 1858

More Info


Endemic to southern Australia from the Gippsland Lakes, Victoria, and Flinders Island, Tasmania, to Geraldton, Western Australia. Inhabits dense seagrass beds, especially Posidonia, stalking prey in seagrass meadows.


The Tubemouth is an extraordinary example of convergent evolution, having achieved a body form that closely resembles the cornetfishes of the family Fistulariidae, as well as trumpetfishes of the family Aulostomidae. This species is so modified that it was initially described within the Fistulariidae before being placed in its own unique family. 
Although aspects of its form, like the very slender body and extremely elongate snout, are apparent in other members of the genus, these features, combined with the absence of pelvic fins, presence of a chin barbel and extraordinarily high numbers of vertebrae, fin rays and lateral-line scales sets it apart from the others.

Species Citation

Siphonognathus argyrophanes Richardson 1858, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 25: 238, pl. 6. Type locality: King George Sound, Western Australia.


Bray, D.J. & Gomon, M.F. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Tubemouth, Siphonognathus argyrophanes Richardson 1858


Clements, K.D., Alfaro, M.E., Fessler, J.L. & Westneat, M.W. 2004. Relationships of the temperate Australasian labrid fish tribe Odacini (Perciformes; Teleostei). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32: 575–587.

Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Odacidae. pp. 700-710 figs 612-621 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. 

Gomon, M.F. & Paxton, J.R. 1986. A revision of the Odacidae, a temperate Australian-New Zealand labroid fish family. Indo-Pacific Fishes 8: 1-57 figs 1-21 pls 1-6

Gomon. M.F. 2008. Family Odacidae. pp. 659-667 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. 2005. Checklist of marine fishes of Recherche Archipelago and adjacent mainland waters. pp. 425-449 in Wells, F.E., Walker, D.I. & Kendrick, G.A. (eds). Proceedings of the Twelfth International Marine Biological Workshop: The Marine Flora and Fauna of Esperance, Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum. 

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. 

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

Kuiter, R.H. 2010. Labridae fishes: wrasses. Seaford, Victoria, Australia : Aquatic Photographics 398 pp. 

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

Neira, F.J., Miskiewicz, A.G. & Trnski, T. 1998. Larvae of temperate Australian fishes: laboratory guide for larval fish identification. Nedlands, Western Australia : University of Western Australia press 474 pp.

Richardson, J. 1858. On Siphonognathus, a new genus of Fistularidae. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 25: 237-240 fig. 

Russell, B., Clements, K.D., Choat, J.H., Rocha, L.A., Myers, R., Lazuardi, M.E., Muljadi, A., Pardede, S. & Rahardjo, P. 2012. Siphonognathus argyrophanes. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T190681A17774809. Downloaded on 26 June 2018.

Scott, T.D., Glover, C.J.M. & Southcott, R.V. 1974. The Marine and Freshwater Fishes of South Australia. Adelaide : Government Printer 392 pp. figs. 

Swainston, R. 2011. Swainston's Fishes of Australia: The complete illustrated guide. Camberwell, Victoria : Penguin Australia 836 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37385008

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-40 m

Habitat:Reef associated, seagrass/macroalgae areas

Max Size:40 cm SL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map