Smallscale Kelpfish, Chironemus microlepis Waite 1916

Other Names: Surgefish

A Smallscale Kelpfish, Chironemus microlepis, from Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea, April 2017. Source: mscott / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

A kelpfish with five dark blotches along the back, a chequered-board pattern of smaller blotches on the side, and dark brown fins with pale spots. 

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Chironemus microlepis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 May 2024,

Smallscale Kelpfish, Chironemus microlepis Waite 1916

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Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in the Kermadec Islands and Northern New Zealand.


Dorsal fin XIV-XV, 17-18; Anal fin III, 6-7; Pectoral fin 14-15 (VI, 8- 9); Anal fin III, 6-7; Lateral-line scales 70-75; Scales above lateral line 9-12; Scales below lateral line 15- 21.

Moderate projection present on upper posterior margin of frontal bone; maxilla not reaching the anterior margin of orbit; interorbital space concave.

Species Citation

Chironemus microlepis Waite 1916, Trans. Roy. Soc. South Aust. 40: 456, pl. 46. Type locality: Norfolk Island.


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Smallscale Kelpfish, Chironemus microlepis Waite 1916


Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. 1976. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30(15): 365-454 figs 1-2 

Burridge CP, R Meléndez & BS Dyer. 2006. Multiple origins of the Juan Fernández kelpfish fauna and evidence for frequent and unidirectional dispersal of cirrhitoid fishes across the South Pacific. Systematic Biology 55(4): 566-578.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2 

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

Francis, M.P., Grace, R.V. & Paulin, C.D. 1987. Coastal fishes of the Kermadec Islands. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 21(1): 1-13.

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 

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

Stewart, A.L. 2015. 197 Family Chironemidae (pp. 1340-1343), in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. (eds) 2015. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 4 pp. 1153-1748.

Waite, E.R. 1916. A list of the fishes of Norfolk Island and indication of their range to Lord Howe Island, Kermadec Island, Australia and New Zealand. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 40: 452-458 pls 44-46

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37375004

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:33 cm SL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map