Common Redmouth Whalefish, Rondeletia loricata Abe & Hotta 1963

Other Names: Redmouth Whalefish, Red-mouth Whalefish
Common Redmouth Whalefish, Rondeletia loricata, from the Tasman Sea

Common Redmouth Whalefish, Rondeletia loricata - captured in a mdiwater trawl NW of Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea, on the NORFANZ Expedition, May 2003. The skin has been damaged by the trawl net.. Source: Mark McGrouther / NORFANZ Founding Parties. License: All rights reserved


A small flabby orange to reddish brown whalefish with a large head, a large mouth and small eyes, and reddish-orange coloration inside the mouth and gill cavities. External scales are lacking and the lateral line consists of a series of vertical rows of papillae.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Rondeletia loricata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Apr 2024,

Common Redmouth Whalefish, Rondeletia loricata Abe & Hotta 1963

More Info


Coral Sea, Queensland, around southern Australia and north to the Exmouth Plateau, Western Australia; also the Lord Howe Rise and Norfolk Ridge in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species is circumglobal at tropical to cold temperate latitudes.
Larvae and juveniles usually occur in the upper 200 m.


Dorsal fin 13–14; Anal fin 12–13; Pectoral fin 9–11; Pelvic fin 5; Caudal fin 18–19; Lateral line (rows of papillae) 15–19;  Gill rakers 18–21; Vertebrae 24–26.

No bony sphenotic hook over orbit; large posterior extensions of spongy bone on posttemporal dorsally and cleithrum ventrally.


Juveniles as small as 14 mm in length resemble adults.


Orange-brown with orange-red inside the mouth, gill cavity, and fin rays in life; dark brown fading to light brown in preservative.


Feeds mostly on crustaceans.

Similar Species

The lack of a bony sphenotic hook, the presence of posterior bony extensions on the posttemporal and cleithrum, and fewer rows of lateral-line papillae distinguish this species from the only other species in the family, the Hooked Redmouth Whalefish, R. bicolor, that occurs in the Central Pacific (rarely) and Atlantic Oceans.


The specific name is from the Latin loricata (= armoured), in reference to the “remarkably expanded and swollen” bones of the pectoral girdle.

Species Citation

Rondeletia loricata Abe & Hotta 1963, Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 10(2–6): 43, pls 11-12, figs 8-9. Type locality: Off Kesen-numa, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, depth 750 m.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Common Redmouth Whalefish, Rondeletia loricata Abe & Hotta 1963


Abe, T. & Hotta, H. 1963. Description of a new deep-sea fish of the genus Rondeletia from Japan. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 10(2–6): 43-48 pls 11-12 

Harold, A. 2015. Rondeletia loricata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T60483273A60812443. Accessed on 23 December 2022.

Kotlyar, A.N. 1996. The osteology, intraspecific structure, and distribution of Rondeletia loricata (Rondeletiidae). Journal of Ichthyology 36(2): 207-221

Paxton, J.P., Johnson, G.D. & Trnski, T. 2001. Larvae and juveniles of the deepsea "whalefishes" Barbourisia and Rondeletia (Stephanoberyciformes: Barbourisiidae, Rondeletiidae) with comments on family relationships. Records of the Australian Museum 53: 407-425

Paxton, J.R. 1999. Families Gibberichthyidae, Rondeletiidae, Barbourisiidae, Cetomimidae, Mirapinnidae, Megalomycteridae, Anoplogastridae, Diretmidae. pp. 2203-2211 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 pp. 2069-2790. 

Paxton, J.R. 2008. Family Rondeletiidae. pp. 413 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. 

Paxton, J.R. 2015. Family Rondeletiidae. pp. 994-995 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 3 pp. 577-1152. 

Paxton, J.R. & Blake, D.J. 1990. Rondeletiidae. p. 609 in Quéro, J.-C., Hureau, J.-C., Karrer, C., Post, A. & Saldanha, L. (eds). 1990. Check-list of the Fishes of the Eastern Tropical Atlantic. Paris : UNESCO 1492 pp., 3 vols.

Paxton, J.R. & Bray, D.J. 1986. Order Cetomimiformes. pp. 433-434 in Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P.C. (eds). Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg : Macmillan South Africa xx + 1047 pp. 144 pls.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37133001

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:200-1500 m

Habitat:Mesopelagic, bathypelagic

Max Size:11 cm SL

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