Southern Roughy, Trachichthys australis Shaw 1799

Other Names: Pug-faced Roughy, Roughy

A Southern Roughy, Trachichthys australis, in Camp Cove, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, September 2017. Source: Erik Schlogl / License: CC BY Attribution-NonCommercial

An almost circular reddish-brown roughy with a white bar on the gill cover, reddish-brown fins with pale anterior spines, pale bases on the dorsal and anal fins, and pale upper and lower caudal-fin rays. Small juveniles have a striking black and white pattern.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Trachichthys australis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 May 2024,

Southern Roughy, Trachichthys australis Shaw 1799

More Info


Moreton Bay, Queensland, to Kalbarri, Western Australia, including northern Tasmania, and seamounts off central New South Wales. Commonly occurs near shallow coastal reefs and rocky bottoms at depths to 30 m. The species is nocturnal and individuals or small groups often shelter beneath ledges or in gutters during the day.


Dorsal fin III, 11-12; Anal fin III, 9-10; Caudal fin 19; Pectoral fin 13; Pelvic fin I, 6; Lateral line approx. 63.  

Body very deep (57-59% SL), nearly circular in profile, compressed. Head large (32-35% SL), very rough and bony;  eyes large (37-46% HL); mouth large, angled obliquely, extending beyond eye; very prominent spines at corner of preopercle and above opercle; mucous cavities deep, covered by thick skin. Anus immediately before anal fin. 
Scales small, very rough, firmly attached; lateral line smoothly curved, scales not enlarged; 9-12 strong, very large scutes on belly.
Single dorsal fin with moderately short base, spines rough, strong, succeeding spines increasing in length, first few soft rays considerably longer than longest spine, succeeding rays decreasing in length; anal fin with short base, located below rear of dorsal fin;  margins of soft dorsal and anal fins concavely curved;  caudal fin forked. Pelvic fins arising below pectoral fins.


May be taken by hook and line, although due to its small size is of no commercial importance. 


This is the shallowest occurring member of the family Trachichthyidae. When disturbed, the Southern Roughy may apparently release a noxious substance into the water that may disable other fishes (Gomon 1994).


The specific name is from the australis (= of the south, southern) in reference to the Southern Hemisphere distribution of this species.

Species Citation

Trachichthys australis Shaw, 1799, Naturalist's Miscellany 10: pl. 378. Type locality: Port Jackson, New South Wales (as New Holland).


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Southern Roughy, Trachichthys australis Shaw 1799


Bloch, M.E. & Schneider, J.G. 1801. Systema Ichthyologiae Iconibus ex Illustratum. Berlin 584 pp. 110 pls. (as Amphiprion carinatus) See ref at BHL

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.

Gomon, M.F. 1994. Families Trachichthyidae, Monocentridae. pp. 399-412 figs 358-369 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. 2008. Family Trachichthyidae. pp. 420-430 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. 

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp. 

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds) The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.

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

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762

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) 

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

Kuiter, R. & Kuiter, S. 2018. Coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 pp.

Macleay, W.J. 1881. Descriptive catalogue of the fishes of Australia. Part 2. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 5(4): 510-629 pls 13-14 (as Trachichthys jacksoniensis) See ref at BHL

Moore, J. 2020. Trachichthys australis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T123359970A123360246. Downloaded on 16 December 2020.

Parish, S. 1974. Australia's Ocean of Life. Newport, Victoria : Wedneil Publications 128 pp. 

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. 

Shaw, G. 1799, in Shaw, G. & Nodder, F.P. The Naturalist's Miscellany, or coloured figures of natural objects; drawn and described from nature.London Vol. 10 pls 365–396, unnumbered pages. See ref at BHL

Watson, D.L., Harvey, E.S., Anderson, M.J. & Kendrick, G.A. 2005. A comparison of temperate reef fish assemblages recorded by three underwater stereo-video techniques. Marine Biology 2005(148): 415-425

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37255015

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-30 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:18 cm TL


Species Maps

CAAB distribution map