Slender Weed Whiting, Siphonognathus attenuatus (Ogilby 1897)

Other Names: Short-nose Weed Whiting, Short-snouted Pencil Weed Whiting, Slender Rock Whiting

A Slender Weed Whiting, Siphonognathus attenuatus, showing the eye-like ocellus on the tail. Source: Rick Stuart-Smith / Reef Life Survey. License: CC BY Attribution

A small tan coloured weed whiting with a white undersie, a brown midlateral stripe and a prominent black ocellus or 'false eye-spot' on the caudal fin. Males have yellow pelvic fins with a black base and white-edged black spots distally.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Siphonognathus attenuatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 26 Nov 2020,

Slender Weed Whiting, Siphonognathus attenuatus (Ogilby 1897)

More Info


Endemic to southern Australia from eastern Bass Strait and Tasmania to Rottnest Island, Western Australia. Inhabits sandy patches in coastal waters adjacent to seagrass and weed beds, and rocky outcrops, commonly at 15–20 m.


Meristic features; Dorsal fin IX–XXI, 14–16; Anal fin III, 7–8; Caudal fin 12; Pectoral fin 13–15; Pelvic fin I, 4; Lateral line scales 38–45.
Body very slender (8-10% SL), very elongate, compressed; caudal peduncle long and shallow (caudal peduncle depth 28-34% caudal peduncle length). Head moderately small (23-25% SL), snout of moderate length (28-33% HL), pointed, eyes of moderate size (21-26 % HL); mouth small (upper jaw length 16-21%), reaching almost half way to front edge of eye;  teeth mostly fused into pavement like beak.  

Scales of moderate size, cycloid, covering body and part of head including most of opercle and rear of cheek, predorsal scales reaching forward almost to above front edge of eye; lateral line nearly straight but with low dorsal curve above pectoral fin. 

Single dorsal fin with long base and uniform height, anal fin short, about one fourth length of dorsal. Pectoral fin rounded. Pelvic fin short, arising slightly behind and below pectoral fin base.


Tan above, white below with broad dark brown stripe midlaterally; caudal fin with prominent black spot circled with white; pelvic fins in males yellow with black base and white-edged black spots distally.

Species Citation

Odax attenuatus Ogilby, 1897, Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 22: 83. Type locality: Tasmania.


Dianne J. Bray

Slender Weed Whiting, Siphonognathus attenuatus (Ogilby 1897)


Clements, K.D., Alfaro, M.E., Fessler, J.L. & Westneat, M.W. 2004.  Relationships of the temperate Australasian labrid fish tribe Odacini (Perciformes; Teleostei). Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 32: 575-587.

Edgar, G.J., Last, P.R. & Wells, M.W. 1982. Coastal Fishes of Tasmania and Bass Strait. Hobart : Cat & Fiddle Press 175 pp.

Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Odacidae. pp. 700-710 figs 612-621 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.

Gomon, M.F., Bray, D. & R.H. Kuiter (eds). 2008. The Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Reed New Holland. 928pp.

Gomon, M.F. & Paxton, J.R. 1986. A revision of the Odacidae, a temperate Australian-New Zealand labroid fish family. Indo-Pacific Fishes 8: 1-57 figs 1-21 pls 1-6 [dated 1985]

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

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

May, J.L. & J.G.H. Maxwell. 1986. Trawl fish from temperate waters of Australia. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research, Tasmania. 492 p.

Ogilby, J.D. 1897. New genera and species of Australian fishes. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 22(1): 62-95

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37385004

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-45 m

Habitat:Reef associated, seagrass beds

Max Size:14 cm

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CAAB distribution map