Bigspine Boarfish, Pentaceros decacanthus Günther 1859

Other Names: Big-spined Boarfish, Diamond Fish, Yellow Boarfish

Bigspine Boarfish, Pentaceros decacanthus. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved


Relatively deep-bodied compressed fishes with the ventral surface between the pelvic fins noticeably broad and flattened in juveniles; pectoral-fin base well in advance of pelvic fin base; dorsal fin with strong spines and deeply incised membranes; snout relatively short; juveniles with prominent head spines.

Yellowish to brownish, pelvic fins black. Juveniles have dark mottling on their sides and abdomen.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Pentaceros decacanthus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Bigspine Boarfish, Pentaceros decacanthus Günther 1859

More Info


Southern half of Australia from off Yeppoon, Queensland, to off Broome, Western Australia, and around Tasmania; also on the Lord Howe Rise and Norfolk Ridge in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in New Zealand. The Bigspine Boarfish is benthopelagic on the continental shelf and slope in depths of 37-712 m, typically on the continental slope in depths below 300 m.


Dorsal fin XI, 12-14; Anal fin IV-V, 8-10; Caudal fin 15-18; Pectoral fin 15-18; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line 45-53.

Body relatively deep, compressed fishes; juveniles with ventral surface between the pelvic fins noticeably broad, flattened; pectoral-fin base well in advance of pelvic fin base; dorsal fin with strong spines and deeply incised membranes; snout relatively short; juveniles with prominent head spines.


To a total length (TL) of 25 cm.


Body with yellowish patches, scale margins grey dorsally; greenish‑yellow dorsally on head; membranes of dorsal, anal and caudal fins yellow; ventral fins black.  Juveniles with dark brown mottling on sides and belly.




Trawled throughout its range and an important part of the Western Australian trawl fishery at depths of 300–600 m. Also taken as by-catch in the southeast Australian otter trawl fishery.

Bigspine boarfish is highly regarded as a food fish.


IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Least Concern (LC)

Australian EPBC Act: Not listed


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Bigspine Boarfish, Pentaceros decacanthus Günther 1859


Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Enoplosidae and Pentacerotidae. pp. 609-617 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Gomon, M. 2010. Pentaceros decacanthus (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T154614A115213549. Downloaded on 29 October 2018.

Günther, A. 1859. Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the acanthopterygian fishes in the collection of the British Museum. Gasterosteidae, Berycidae, Percidae, Aphredoderidae, Pristipomatidae, Mullidae, Sparidae. London : British Museum Vol. 1 524 pp. Ref at BHL

Hardy, G.S. 1983. A revision of the fishes of the family Pentacerotidae (Perciformes). New Zealand Journal of Zoology 10: 177-220 figs 1-13

Hardy, G.S. 1994. Pentacerotidae. pp. 629-636, figs 553-559 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

Kim, S.-Y.  2012. Phylogenetic systematics of the family Pentacerotidae (Actinopterygii: Order Perciformes). Zootaxa 3366: 1-111.

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp.

McCulloch, A.R. 1915. Report on some fishes obtained by the F.I.S. Endeavour on the coasts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South and South-Western Australia. Part 3. Biological Results of the Fishing Experiments carried on by the F.I.S. Endeavour 1909-1914 3(3): 97-170 figs 1-3 pls 13-37 [144, pl. 26(1-3) (as Quinquarius hendecacanthus)

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

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.

Trnski, T.  2015. 189 Family Pentacerotidae, pp. 1308-1313 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.

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

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37367004

Biology:Commercial species

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:37-712 metres

Max Size:25 cm TL

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