Banded Morwong, Chirodactylus spectabilis Hutton 1872

Other Names: Brown Banded Morwong, Brown-banded Morwong, Carp, Nanua, Red Moki

A Banded Morwong, Chirodactylus spectabilis, at St Helens, Tasmania. Source: Rick Stuart-Smith / Reef Life Survey. License: CC BY Attribution

A large silvery to pale brown morwong with 7-8 evenly spaced, broad, reddish-brown to almost black bands along the side, the first 3–4 angled forwards, subsequent bands nearly vertical; fins with nearly black margins.
This species was previously known as Cheilodactylus spectabilis.
Video of Banded Morwongs at Goat Island, northern New Zealand.
Video of Banded Morwongs - again in northern New Zealand.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Chirodactylus spectabilis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 May 2024,

Banded Morwong, Chirodactylus spectabilis Hutton 1872

More Info


Seal Rocks, New South Wales, to Kangaroo Island (and possibly west to off Point Drummond), South Australia, including around Tasmania and the Bass Strait islands. Elsewhere the species occurs in New Zealand. Banded Morwong are most abundant in Tasmania and New Zealand. 

Most frequently seen around exposed rocky reefs, and occasionally near kelp patches. Banded Morwong generally inhabit deeper waters in the northern part of their range than in the south.


Feeds on a range of benthic invertebrates, including gastropod and bivalve molluscs, crustaceans, polychaete worms and small sea urchins. By feeding on very small sea urchins, the Banded Morwong may play a role in preventing urchin barrens.


Aging studies determined that C. spectabilis is very long-lived, with males and females living to over 90 years of age.


Fished commercially in parts of its range. Like other morwongs, this species is rarely taken by hook and line. 


The specific name s from the Latin spectabilis (= notable, showy) in reference to the striking colour pattern of this species.

Species Citation

Chilodactylus spectabilis Hutton, 1872, Fish. N. Z. Catalogue: 8. Type locality: Cook Strait, New Zealand


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Banded Morwong, Chirodactylus spectabilis Hutton 1872


Allen, G.R. & Heemstra, P.C. 1976. Cheilodactylus rubrolabiatus, a new species of morwong (Pisces : Cheilodactylidae) from Western Australia, with a key to the cheilodactylid fishes of Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 4(4): 311-325 figs 1-2. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis) See ref online

Ayling, T. & Cox, G.J. 1982. Collins Guide to the Seafishes of New Zealand. Auckland : Collins 343 pp. 48 pls 475 figs. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Burridge, C.P. & White, R.W.G. 2000. Molecular phylogeny of the antitropical subgenus Goniistius (Perciformes: Cheilodactylidae: Cheilodactylus): evidence for multiple transequatorial divergences and non-monophyly. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 70: 435-458 (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Castelnau, F.L. de 1878. On some new Australian (chiefly) freshwater fishes. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 3(2): 140-144 (described as Cheilodactylus rubrofasciatus) See ref at BHL

Edgar, G.J. 2000. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland 544 pp. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Edgar, G.J. 2008. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland 2, 624 pp. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Ewing, G.P., Lyle, J.M., Murphy, R.J., Kalish, J.M. & Ziegler, P.E. 2007. Validation of age and growth in a long-lived temperate reef fish using otolith structure, oxytetracycline and bomb radiocarbon methods. Marine and Freshwater Research 58: 944-955. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)  

Francis, M. 2001. Coastal Fishes of New Zealand. Auckland : Reed Publishing (NZ) 3, 103 pp. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Günther, A. 1872. Description of two new fishes from Tasmania. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 4 10(26): 183-184 (described as Chilodactylus allporti) See ref at BHL

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

Hutton, F.W. 1872. Catalogue with diagnoses of the species. 1-88 pls 1-12 in Hutton, F.W. & Hector, J. (eds). Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Colonial Museum and Geological Survey Department.

Kimura, K., Imamura, H. & Kawai, T. 2018. Comparative morphology and phylogenetic systematics of the families Cheilodactylidae and Latridae (Perciformes: Cirrhitoidea), and proposal of a new classification. Zootaxa 4536(1): 1-72. (as Goniistius spectabilis)

Klunzinger, C.B. 1872. Zur Fische-fauna von Süd Australien. Archiv für Naturgeschichte 38(1): 17-47 pl. 2 (described as Chilodactylus asper) See ref at BHL

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1994. Family Cheilodactylidae. pp. 644-655, figs 566-574 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. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Kuiter, R.H. & Kuiter, S.L. 2018. Fish watchers guide to coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 pp. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

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

Lowry, M. & Cappo, M. 1999. Morwongs. pp. 172-179 in Andrew, N. (ed.) Under Southern Seas — The ecology of Australia's rocky reefs. Sydney : University of New South Wales Press 238 pp. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Ludt, W.B., Burridge, C.P. & Chakrabarty, P. 2019. A taxonomic revision of Cheilodactylidae and Latridae (Centrarchiformes: Cirrhitoidei) using morphological and genomic characters. Zootaxa 4585 (1): 121–141,

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Trawl fish from temperate waters of Australia. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research, Tasmania. 492 pp. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

McCormick, M.1. 1998. Ontogeny of diet shifts by a microcarnivorous fish, Cheilodactylus spectabilis: relationships between feeding mechanics, microhabitat selection and growth. Marine Biology 132: 9-20. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

McCormick, M.I. 1989. Spatio-temporal patterns in the abundance and population structure of a large temperate reef fish. Marine Ecology Progress Series 53: 215–225  (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

McCormick, M.I. 1989. Reproductive ecology of the temperate reef fish Cheilodactylus spectabilis (Pisces: Cheilodactylidae). Marine Ecology Progress Series 55(2/3): 113–120

Paul, L. 2000. New Zealand fishes. Identification, Natural history and Fisheries. Reed Books, Auckland. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Paul, L.J. 1992. Age and growth studies of New Zealand marine fishes, 1921-90: a review and bibliography. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43: 879-912. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Paulin, C., Stewart, A., Roberts, C. & McMillan, P. 1989. New Zealand fish: a complete guide. National Museum of New Zealand Miscellaneous Series 19: 1-279. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Paulin, C.D. & Roberts, C.D. 1992. The rockpool fishes of New Zealand. Te ika aaria o Aotearoa. Wellington : Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa 177 pp. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Pollard, J. (ed.) 1980. G.P. Whitley's Handbook of Australian Fishes. North Sydney : Jack Pollard Publishing Pty Ltd 629 pp. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Roberts, C.D. & Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Cheilodactylidae and Latridae. pp. 624-632 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Roberts, C.D. 2015. 199 Family Cheilodactylidae, pp. 1347-1357, in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. (eds). The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 4 pp. 1153-1748. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Russell, B.C. 1983. The food and feeding habits of rocky reef fish of north-eastern New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 17(2): 121-145. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Taylor, R.B. & Willis, T.J. 1998. Relationships amongst length, weight and growth of north-eastern New Zealand reef fishes. Marine and Freshwater Research 49: 255-260. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Ward, R.D. (eds) 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 460 pp. (as Cheilodactylus spectabilis)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37377006

Depth:0-50 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:100 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map