Smooth Flutemouth, Fistularia commersonii Rüppell 1838

Other Names: Bluespotted Cornetfish, Bluspotted Cornetfish, Smooth Cornetfish, Smooth Flute-mouth

A Smooth Flutemouth, Fistularia commersonii, in the Red Sea. Source: Derek Keats / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution


A brownish to olive-green flutemouth with no bony plates along the dorsal midline, and ridges along the top of the snout that bulge outwards rather than being parallel. The long tail filament is lined with sensory pores which may help the fish detect prey.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson, Fistularia commersonii in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Smooth Flutemouth, Fistularia commersonii Rüppell 1838

More Info


Widespread in the tropical and subtropical Indo-Pacific from East Africa and the Red Sea to Panama in the Eastern Pacific, north to southern Japan, and south to Australia and northern New Zealand. Known in Australian waters from Western Australia, Queensland to southern New South Wales, including Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island. The species is benthopelagic in seagrass beds and on coastal, lagoon and outer coral and rocky reefs and adjacent sandy areas at 3-200m.


Dorsal fin 14-17; Anal fin 14-16; Pectoral fin 14-16; Vertebrae 83-86; Branchiostegal rays 5.

Body very elongate, slightly depressed; head long, eye very large with anteriorally elongate pupil; mouth small, at tip of narrow tubular snout; chin barbel absent; body midline without bony plates..

Single opposing dorsal and anal fins of similar appearance far posterior on body; caudal fin forked, with long filament extending from centre.


Body greenish-grey to brown dorsally, lighter ventrally. The dorsal surface has two thin blue stripes or rows of blue spots or dashes, and both dorsal and anal fins are orange distally. The caudal filament is white. Individuals become broadly banded at night.


Smooth Flutemouths are usually solitary predators, although they may also feed near the bottom in small groups. They usually feed on small fishes, and on crustaceans and squid. When feeding in the water column, flutemouths often feed on schooling fishes, whereas they preyed on individual bottom-dwelling fishes.

 Individuals usually stalk their prey, although larger flutemouths will chase other fishes. They sometimes forage by ‘riding’ alongside other fishes before suddenly attacking their prey, a tactic also used by trumpetfishes (Family Aulostomidae). The long tubular snout is a very efficient device for sucking in small fishes which are a major food source.


Sexes separate, oviparous (eggs hatch and develop outside the body), spawning pelagic. Eggs large, smooth, spherical, 1.5-2.1 mm in diameter, lack oil droplets, narrow perivitelline space. Larvae hatch at 6-7 mm.


Although the Smooth Flutemouth is of minor commercial importance and is mostly sold as fish meal, and is also marketed fresh, salted, dried or smoked. The species is also sold in the aquarium industry.


In 2000, the Smooth Flutemouth was reported to have invaded the Mediterranean Sea. The species continues to disperse rapidly in the Mediterranean, and is now well-established and abundant in some areas.

Similar Species

Although the Smooth Flutemouth is superficially similar to the Rough Flutemouth, it differs in lacking bony plates along the dorsal midline, and the ridges along the top of the snout bulge outwards rather than being parallel as in the Rough Flutemouth.

Although flutemouths superficially resemble trumpetfishes (family Aulostomidae), they have a tail filament, and lack a chin barbel and scales. Adult trumpetfish are also found only in the tropics.


Fistularia is from the Latin fistula, meaning pipeline, in reference to the long tubular-shaped body. The species is named for Mr Commerson.

Species Citation

Fistularia commersonii Rüppell 1838, Fische Rothen Meeres 1835-38: 142. Type locality: Mohila, Red Sea.


Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson

Smooth Flutemouth, Fistularia commersonii Rüppell 1838


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37278001

Depth:3-200 m

Fishing:Minor commercial

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:170 cm TL

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