Morsecode Pigfish, Bodianus rubrisos Gomon 2006

A Morsecode Pigfish, Bodianus rubrisos, initial-phase adult, from Singaraja fish market, Bali, Indonesia. Source: Barry Russell. License: All rights reserved

The Morsecode Pigfish is a deeper tropical species previously confused with Bodianus leucostictus of the western Indian Ocean and north-west Pacific. It is known in Australia only from coastal areas close to Indonesia.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. 2016, Bodianus rubrisos in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Apr 2024,

Morsecode Pigfish, Bodianus rubrisos Gomon 2006

More Info


Recorded in Australia from off Scott Reef, Western Australia and the Arafura Sea, Northern Territory. The species occurs elsewhere in Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, and Bali, Indonesia.


Dorsal fin XII, 10 rays; Anal fin III, 12 rays; 16-17 total gill rakers; body deep (36.3-41.1% SL); head moderately long (38.2-40.2% SL); jaws slightly attenuate, dorsal profile of snout noticeably concave. 
Lateral line with 29-30 pored scales, each with simple laterosensory tube; 4-5 scales above lateral line; 11-13 scales below lateral line; 25-27 predorsal scales, reaching forward to above or just in advance of anterior nostrils on dorsal midline of head; cheek scales extending forward just in advance of corner of mouth, preopercle fully scaled or with only narrow naked margin at most, scales covering posterior half of lower jaw; scaly basal sheath on base of dorsal and anal fins low or of moderate height, 1½-3 scales in depth.
Spines of moderate length in dorsal (1st spine 5.7-7.8% SL, 2nd spine 7.3-9.5% SL, and 12th 13.6-15.9% SL) and anal (1st spine 6.8-7.4% SL and 3rd spine 13.6-15.4% SL) fins; posterior tips of dorsal and anal fins rounded; caudal fin slightly rounded to truncate; pectoral fin broadly rounded below, dorsoposterior margin mostly straight, upper rays distinctly longer.


Reaches 30 cm SL.


Juveniles pink above and white below with 4 broken red stripes on side, second and third radiating from posterior margin of orbit, and white stripe immediately below third broken red stripe; segments in stripes of similar size and separated by slightly paler pink vertical bands; each segment mostly obscured with black, black decreasing in width with growth revealing more of underlying red, starting with ventral stripe; two white-edged black spots on dorsal fin, first centered on fifth or sixth spine and second centered on twelvth; third white-edged black spot on scaly anal-fin base behind third spine; fourth near center of scaly caudal-fin base; pectoral-fin base covered with black spot.  Pelvic fin apparently without spot.  Fins otherwise transparent with white marginal pigment especially anteriorly, transparent areas becoming covered with white and pink with growth.  Black spots decreasing in size with growth, those anteriorly on dorsal fin and on anal fin lost first.

Initial-phase adults pink above and white below with 4 narrow broken red stripes and red dots in irregular rows between them, red of broken stripes obscured with black in smaller adults, especially dorsally; red dots scattered on operculum ventrally but absent in front of preopercular edge.  Vertically elongate red spot on fleshy pectoral-fin base; black spot in axilla of fin.  Dorsal fin with broad pink marginal stripe, red and black spot basally between fifth and seventh spines and low black spot on base just posterior to last spine.  Caudal fin with broad red posterior margin expanded anteriorly at corners.   Anal and pelvic fins mostly white.  Fins otherwise transparent.

Terminal-phase adults pink to tan with white underside of head and belly; sides with numerous horizontal rows of small red to yellowish brown dots and about 3 moderately narrow interrupted stripes of similar colour; dorsalmost stripe in about 3 segments extending from dorsal extent of gill opening horizontally to below central segmented dorsal-fin rays at level of lateral line; second stripe in about 3 segments  on lateral midline of body, originating above pectoral-fin base and terminating below posterior end of first stripe; third stripe, comprising single segment posterior to pectoral-fin base near middle of side; ~3 rows of dots above dorsalmost stripe, 2 or 3 rows between dorsalmost and midlateral stripe, 2 or 3 rows between midlateral and ventralmost, and sometimes 1 row below ventralmost stripe.  Head with about 3 broken stripes of similar colour to body markings radiating from posterior side of eye; uppermost directed dorsoposteriorly from dorsal edge of orbit, second directed toward dorsal extent of gill opening from dorsoposterior edge of orbit and third directed toward pectoral-fin base from ventroposterior edge of orbit.  Dorsal fin pink to yellowish tan with narrow red to yellowish brown basal stripe or row of spots on membrane between rays.  Anal fin yellowish to white.  Caudal fin red to reddish brown or yellowish.  Pectoral fin yellowish with narrow red to yellowish brown band on fleshy base.  Pelvic fin yellowish to white.


The name rubrisos is from the Latin rubri, “red”,  and artificial combination of letters sos, in reference to the series of red Morse Code-like dots and dashes that make up the distinctive color pattern in this species.

Species Citation

Bodianus rubrisos Gomon, 2006, Rec. Aust. Mus., Suppl. 30: 53, figs 32, 34, pl. 5A-C. Type locality: Singaraja fish market, Bali, Indonesia.


Gomon, M.F. 2016

Morsecode Pigfish, Bodianus rubrisos Gomon 2006


Gomon, M.F. 2006. A revision of the labrid fish genus Bodianus with descriptions of eight new species. Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 30: 1-133.

Russell, B. 2010. Bodianus rubrisos. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. . Downloaded on 19 April 2015.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37384200


Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Depth:50-150 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:30 cm SL

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