Sergeant Baker, Latropiscis purpurissatus (Richardson 1843)

Other Names: Australian Aulopus

A male Sergeant Baker, Latropiscis purpurissatus, at Bare Island, Botany Bay, New South Wales, April 2017. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A deep reddish to purplish ambush predator with a pearly to yellowish-white underside, yellow fins with variable crimson, red, orange and brown blotches and spots, and orange to crimson eyes. Adult males have greatly elongated rays in the first dorsal fin.  
This ambush predator is usually seen perching on the bottom.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Gomon, M.F. 2018, Latropiscis purpurissatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024,

Sergeant Baker, Latropiscis purpurissatus (Richardson 1843)

More Info


Endemic to the southern half of Australia from Double Island Point, Queensland, around southern Australia, to mackerel Reef, north of Shark Bay, Western Australia, including Tasmania. 
Occurs at depths from inshore shallows to about 250 m on the upper continental slope, mostly on soft bottom habitats on rocky and coral reefs, in bays, inlets and coastal waters.


Dorsal fin 19-22; adipose; Anal fin 12-14; Caudal fin approx. 35; Pectoral fin 11; Pelvic fin 8-9; Lateral line 49-51.

Body moderately elongate (depth approx. 20% SL), tapering posteriorly; sides partly compressed.  Head large (approx. 28% SL); eyes of moderate size;  mouth large, maxilla extending back just beyond hind margin of eyes; teeth fine, sharp and curved, both jaws with two outer rows, upper jaw with two inner rows of similar but larger teeth.
Scales ctenoid;  lateral line midlaterally on side. 
Two dorsal fins, first with moderately elongate base, centred on body, supported by rays with second or third longest, second ray in adult males exceptionally long; second dorsal small, adipose; anal fin long-based, originating slightly behind posterior end of first dorsal; caudal fin forked. Pelvic fins broad, originating just behind base of pectorals.


Deep reddish to purple on back and sides, pearly to yellowish-white below; fins yellow, with variable crimson, red, orange and brown blotches and spots; eyes orange and crimson. 


Carnivore - feeds on benthic invertebrates including molluscs, crustaceans and other fishes.


Considered a good food fish. 


The Sergeant Baker may be named after Sergeant William Baker, Governor Phillip's orderly sergeant. Baker was reportedly a keen fisherman, and may have caught this species.

Species Citation

Aulopus purpurissatus Richardson, 1843, Icones Piscium: 6, pl. 2, fig. 3. Type locality: Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia.


Bray, D.J. & Gomon, M.F. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Sergeant Baker, Latropiscis purpurissatus (Richardson 1843)


Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp. (as Aulopus purpurissatus)

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

Glover, C.J.M. 1994. Family Aulopodidae. pp. 264-265 fig. 236 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 Aulopus purpurissatus)

Gomon, M.F., Struthers, C.D. & Stewart, A.L. 2013. A new genus and two new species of the family Aulopidae (Aulopiformes), commonly referred to as Aulopus, flagfins, Sergeant Bakers or Threadsails, in Australasian waters. Species Diversity 18: 141-161 DOI Open access

Gomon, M.F. & Yearsley, G.K. 2008. Family Aulopidae. 257 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp. (as Aulopus purpurissatus)

Hay, A.C. Leis, J.M. & Miskiewicz, A.G. 2004. Aulopidae Hime purpurissatus (Richardson, 1843) Sergeant Baker. Australian Museum Larval Fishes Website, viewed 19 November 2012,

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

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. 433 pp. (as Aulopus purpurissatus

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

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

Matsunuma, M., Meguro, M., Ogihara, G. & Motomura, H. 2008. Records of Aulopus formosanus (Aulopiformes, Aulopidae) from Kagoshima Prefecture, southern Japan, and descriptions of newly recognized diagnostic characaters for the species. Bulletin of the Biogeographical Society of Japan 63: 71-79.

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

McCoy, F. 1881. Plates 54 & 55, Aulopus purpurisatus, the Australian Aulopus, pp. 19-21, in McCoy, F. The Prodromus of the Zoology of Victoria. Decade 6. Melbourne : George Robertson Vol. 1. See ref at BHL

Parin, N.V. & Kotlyar, A.N. 1989. A new aulopodid species, Hime microps, from the eastern South Pacific, with comments on geographic variations of H. japonica. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 35(4): 407-413. (as Aulopus purpurissatus, and listed as Aulopus milesii)

Paxton, J.R. & V.H. Niem. 1999. Aulopidae: aulopus. p. 1919-1920. In K.E. Carpenter & V.H. Niem (eds) FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific. Vol. 3. Batoid fishes, chimaeras and bony fishes. Part 1 (Elopidae to Linophrynidae). FAO, Rome. (as Aulopus purpurissatus)

Richardson, J. 1843. Icones Piscium, or plates of rare fishes. London : Richard & John E. Taylor 8 pp. 5 pls.

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.

Thompson, B.A. 1998. Redescription of Aulopus bajacali Parin & Kotlyar, 1984, comments on its relationships and new distribution records. Ichthyological Research 45(1): 43-51. (as Hime purpurissatus)

Valenciennes, A. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1849. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 22 532 pp. pls 634-650. (p. 519, as Aulopus milesii) See ref at BHL

Whitley, G.P. 1931. New names for Australian fishes. The Australian Zoologist 6(4): 310-334 1 fig. pls 25-27

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37117001

Depth:15-250 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:60 cm TL


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