Sea Sweep, Scorpis aequipinnis Richardson 1848

Other Names: Maomao, Silver Sweep, Snapjack, Sweep

A Sea Sweep, Scorpis aequipinnis, at Wilsons Promontory, Victoria, March 2017. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A relatively large greyish sweep with a bluish, greenish or brownish tinge, and two broad dusky bands or saddles on the upper sides. Sea Sweep have prominent raised lobes on the dorsal and anal fins, a large forked tail and small pectoral fins.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Scorpis aequipinnis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Apr 2024,

Sea Sweep, Scorpis aequipinnis Richardson 1848

More Info


Endemic to the southern half of Australia from Currarong, New South Wales, to Shark Bay, Western Australia. Usually small aggregations near rocky reef, or may occur in larger schools around off‑shore reefs and islands. 


Meristic features: Dorsal fin IX, 27–28; Anal fin III, 25–26; Caudal fin 17; Pectoral fin 18; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales about 100.
Body deep (48-58% SL), very compressed; caudal peduncle shallow. Head of moderate size (28-31% SL), dorsal profile slightly curved; eyes moderately large (20-32% HL); mouth small, oblique; jaw teeth small, strong, in broad bands, outer row enlarged and recurved; preopercular margins serrate; edges of opercles and preorbital bones smooth. 
Scales, tiny, ctenoid, covering body, most of head, and soft part of dorsal and anal fin; lateral line gently curved. 
Dorsal fin continuous, anterior spines short, only posteriormost spines noticeably longer, first few soft rays distinctly longer than preceding spines, following rays much shorter making outer edge of fin deeply concave, base of soft portion of dorsal fin much longer than that of spinous portion; anal fin similar to and opposite soft part of dorsal fin, spines short; caudal fin large, forked. Pectoral fins small; dorsal rays longest. Pelvic fins very small, inserted below and behind pectoral fin bases.


Grey, tinged with blue to brown above, silvery below, with 2 faint broad darker saddles dorsally on side; top of head in mature adults dark, yellow below mouth and in front of eye; fins dusky with pale anterior edges.


Forms small to large schools that feed on plankton in the water column.


Coulson et al. (2012) found that the species attains 68 years, reaches 48 cm FL, and matures at 14-16 years.


This relatively large species usually occurs in small aggregations near rocky reefs, but it is also found in large schools around off-shore islands of South Australia. Like other Scorpis species, these fishes feed almost exclusively on plankton well above the bottom. 


Dianne J. Bray

Sea Sweep, Scorpis aequipinnis Richardson 1848


Coulson, P.G., Potter, I.C. & Hall, N.G. 2012. The biological characteristics of Scorpis aequipinnis (Kyphosidae), including relevant comparisons with those of other species and particularly of a heavily exploited congener. Fisheries Research 125-126: 272-282.

Edgar, G.J. 2008. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland 2nd edn, 624 pp.

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Monodactylidae, Arripidae, Kyphosidae, Girellidae, Microcanthidae, Scorpididae. pp. 596-607 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. 1994. A survey of the nearshore reef fish fauna of Western Australia's west and south coasts — The Leeuwin Province. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 46: 1-66 figs 1-6

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Biodiversity of shallow reef fish assemblages in Western Australia using a rapid censusing technique. Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 247-270.

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 Scorpididae. pp. 618-624, figs 544-624 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.

Richardson, J. 1848. Ichthyology. 75-139 pls 42-43 & 44 (parts), 45-52, 53 in Richardson, J. & Gray, J.E. (eds). The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror under the Command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross, R.N., F.R.S., during the years 1839–43. London : Smith, Elder & Co. Vol. 2 139 pp.

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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37361004

Depth:1-25 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:48 cm FL (fork length)


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