Pygmy Lanternfish, Lampanyctus pusillus (Johnson 1890)

An illustration of the Pygmy Lanternfish, Lampanyctus pusillus. Source: Rhyll Plant. License: CC BY Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


The Pygmy Lanternfish is the smallest species in the genus Lampanyctus.

Identifying features:
Body slender, supracaudal and infracaudal luminous organs present, infracaudal organ relatively short;
A single photophore on cheek, VLO photophore well below lateral line, AOa2 photophore level with others in series;
Secondary photophores present on all body scales, most obvious branchiostegal membranes;
No luminous scales at adipose-fin base;
Skin black, fins clear.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & John R. Paxton, Lampanyctus pusillus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 May 2024,

Pygmy Lanternfish, Lampanyctus pusillus (Johnson 1890)

More Info


Recorded in Australian waters from off Newcastle, New South Wales, to off Bunbury, Western Australia. Elsewhere, southern circumglobal in association with the Subtropical Convergence(also in the North Atlantic).

In a recent study, Bernal et al. (2013) found that adult Pygmy Lanternfish were distributed throughout the water column, while the larvae were only found in the upper 200 m.


  • EPBC Act 1999 : Not listed
  • IUCN Red List : Not Evaluated
  • Species Citation

    Scopelus pusillus Johnson, 1890, Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1890: 457.
    Type locality: Madeira, eastern Atlantic.


    Dianne J. Bray & John R. Paxton

    Pygmy Lanternfish, Lampanyctus pusillus (Johnson 1890)


    Bernal, A., M.P. Olivar & M.L. Ferna´ndez de Puelles. 2013. Feeding patterns of Lampanyctus pusillus (Pisces: Myctophidae) throughout its ontogenetic development. Mar Biol 160: 81–95  DOI 10.1007/s00227-012-2064-9

    Brandt, S.B. 1981. Effects of a warm-core eddy on fish distribution in the Tasman Sea off east Australia. Marine Ecology Progress Series 6: 19-33 figs 1-7

    Hulley, P.A., 1986. Myctophidae. p. 282-321. In M.M. Smith & P.C. Heemstra (eds.) Smiths' sea fishes. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

    Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Checklist of the fishes of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 63: 9-50.

    Johnson, J.Y. 1890. On some new species of fish from Madeira. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1890: 452-459.

    Olivar, M.P. & L.E. Beckley, 1997. Larval development of Lampanyctus species (Pisces: Myctophidae) from the SW Indian Ocean, and species groups based on larval characters. Bull. Mar. Sci. 60(1): 47-65.  

    Olivar, M.P., H.G. Moser & L.E. Beckley, 1999. Lanternfish larvae from the Agulhas current (SW Indian Ocean). Sci. Mar. 63(2): 101-120.

    Paxton, J.R., Gates, J.E. & Hoese, D.F. 2006. Myctophidae. pp. 508-531. in Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3, 2178 pp.

    Paxton, J.R., Hoese, D.F., Allen, G.R. & Hanley, J.E. (eds) 1989. Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Pisces: Petromyzontidae to Carangidae. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service Vol. 7 665 pp.

    Paxton, J.R. & Bray, D.J. 2008. Family Myctophidae. pp. 270-294. in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

    Young, J.W., T.D. Lamb & R.W. Bradford. 1996. Distribution and community structure of midwater fishes in relation to the subtropical convergence off eastern Tasmania, Australia. Mar. Biol. 126(4): 571-584.

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37122052

    Depth:25-850 m

    Habitat:Mesopelagic, epipelagic at night

    Max Size:4.3 cm SL

    Species Image Gallery

    Species Maps

    CAAB distribution map