Southern Velvetfish, Aploactisoma milesii (Richardson 1850)

Other Names: Little Velvetfish, Velvetfish

A Southern Velvetfish, Aploactisoma milesii, in Jervis Bay, New South Wales. Source: Rick Stuart-Smith / Reef Life Survey. License: CC BY Attribution


A small well-camouflaged scorpionfish relative with a long-based dorsal fin that is tall at the front and extends from above the eyes to the tail base. Southern Velvetfish are brownish to purplish or pinkish, often with blackish spots and marbling. 

Although reasonably common, the Velvetfish is rarely seen due to its excellent camouflage. The skin is covered in thick spines giving a velvety appearance, and the lateral line is ornamented with knob-like appendages and filaments to enhance the camouflage.

The fin spines are venomous and can inflict a painful wound.

Video of a Southern Velvetfish and a large nudibranch under St Leonards Pier, Port Phillip, Victoria.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Aploactisoma milesii in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

Southern Velvetfish, Aploactisoma milesii (Richardson 1850)

More Info


Endemic to the southern half of Australia, including the northern part of Tasmania, from Minnie Waters, northern New South Wales, to Shark Bay, Western Australia. 

Southern velvetfish inhabit bays, harbours, deeper estuaries and coastal reefs, often near sponge gardens, macroalgal and seagrass beds, in depths to 30 m.

Although reasonably common, this species is very well-camouflaged and not often seen by divers.


Dorsal fin XIII-XV, 12-16; Anal fin I, 9-13; Caudal fin 13; Pectoral fin 10-11; Pelvic fin I, 2; Lateral line pores 10-14.


Attains a maximum length of 23 cm.


Carnivore - feeds on benthic invertebrates.


Little is known of the life history.

Species Citation

Aploactis milesii Richardson 1850, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 18: 60, pl. 1 (figs 1-21). Type locality: King George Sound, Western Australia.


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Southern Velvetfish, Aploactisoma milesii (Richardson 1850)


Castelnau, F.L. de 1872. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. 2. Note on some South Australian fishes. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 1: 243-248 (as Aploactisoma schomburgki)

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.

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. 2008. Family Aploactinidae. pp. 501-503 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

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

Poss, S.G. 1994. Family Aploactinidae. pp. 506-509 figs 451-453 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.

Poss, S.G. & Eschmeyer, W.N. 1978. Two new Australian velvetfishes, genus Paraploactis (Scorpaeniformes : Aploactinidae) with a revision of the genus and comments on the genera and species of the Aploactinidae. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 41(18): 401-426 figs 1-14

Richardson, J. 1850. Notices of Australian fish. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 18: 58-77 figs 1-3

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. (as Aploactisoma milesii milesii)

Whitley, G.P. 1933. Studies in Ichthyology No. 7. Records of the Australian Museum 19(1): 60-112 figs 1-4 pls 11-15 (as Aploactisoma milesii horenda)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37290001

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:1-30 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:23 cm


Species Maps

CAAB distribution map