Western Kelpfish, Chironemus georgianus Cuvier 1829

Other Names: Kelp Fish, Kelpfish, Large Kelp Fish, Little Kelp Fish, Southern Kelpfish, Tasselled Kelpfish

A Western Kelpfish, Chironemus georgianus. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved


A greyish to brown kelpfish becoming paler below, with a dark mottled pattern of small spots and blackish saddles above (saddles more obvious in juveniles), bands radiating from eyes, and a small silver spot on the upper rear tip of the gill cover. This small kelpfish usually shelters under ledges and in caves and crevices, and is rarely seen by divers.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Chironemus georgianus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/2422

Western Kelpfish, Chironemus georgianus Cuvier 1829

More Info


Endemic to southern Australia from about Lakes Entrance (Victoria) to Perth (Western Australia) including Tasmania.

A shy species, the Western Kelpfish generally shelters beneath ledges and in caves and crevices during the day. Kelpfish use their large pectoral fins to wedge themselves amongst holes in the rocks so they are not swept away in areas of heavy surge.


Dorsal fin XV-XVI, 14-17; Anal fin III, 7-9; Caudal fin 15-16; Pectoral fin 14-16; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 46-48.

Body moderately elongate and shallow (29‑35% SL), slightly compressed; caudal peduncle shallow. Head large (34‑37% SL), depressed with concave profile above eyes; snout of moderate length, pointed; tubular nostrils with tufts of cirri; eyes large (21‑26% HL); mouth small, not extending to below eyes; small conical teeth on vomer and in bands on jaws.

Scales of moderate size, cycloid, covering body, head naked except for small scales on opercles and posterior part of preopercles; lateral line straight.

Single, long based dorsal fin with strong spinous section separated by deep notch from slightly shorter based soft portion, moderately incised membranes behind each spine tipped with tuft of dermal cirri; anal fin small, based below anterior half of soft dorsal, spines strong; caudal fin truncate. Pectoral fins large with branched rays dorsally and simple, thicker, unbranched rays below, lower rays extending distinctly beyond edge of membrane, some beyond tips of branched rays. Pelvic fins small, inserted about midway between pectoral‑fin bases and anus.


Max length 21 cm.


Head and body grey to brown, darker above, with dark mottled pattern of small spots and blackish saddles dorsally, saddles more obvious in juveniles; diffused bands radiating from eyes and small silver spot at upper tip of opercle; fins with darkly banded rays.

The Western kelpfish lacks small white spots on the head and body.


Of no interest to fisheries.

Species Citation

Chironemus georgianus Cuvier, 1829, in Cuvier and Valenciennes, Hist. Nat. Poiss. 3: 78. Type locality: King George's Sound, Western Australia.


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Western Kelpfish, Chironemus georgianus Cuvier 1829


Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Oplegnathidae and Chironemidae. pp. 619-622 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

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

Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1994. Family Chironemidae. pp. 638-641, figs 561-563 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

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

Meléndez, R. & Dyer, B.S. 2010. Review of the southern hemisphere fish family Chironemidae (Perciformes: Cirrhitoidei). Revista de Biología Marina y Oceanografía 45: 683-693

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 Threpterius calceus)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37375003

Depth:1-10 m

Habitat:Reef associated, weedy areas

Max Size:21 cm TL


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