Common Bellowsfish, Macroramphosus scolopax (Linnaeus 1758)

Other Names: Common Bellows-fish, Common Snipefish, Deepbody Snipefish, Long Nosed Snipefish, Longspine Snipefish, Snipefish

A Common Bellowsfish, Macroramphosus scolopax, photographed during the Deep-sea Lebanon Expedition, October 2016. Source: Oceana Europe / Flickr. License: All rights reserved


The Common Bellowsfish, currently considered to be the most widespread species in the family Macroramphosidae may comprise a species complex. Bellowsfishes are gregarious, sometimes forming schools of several hundred individuals.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson, Macroramphosus scolopax in Fishes of Australia, accessed 18 Sep 2020,

Common Bellowsfish, Macroramphosus scolopax (Linnaeus 1758)

More Info


Known in Australian waters from Cape York, Queensland, south to New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and across to the western edge of the Great Australian Bight, Western Australia.

Elsewhere, widespread in subtropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic (including in the Mediterranean Sea) and Indo-West Pacific Oceans.  

A schooling species, the Common Bellowsfish lives near the bottom on the continental shelf, upper continental slope, and oceanic seamounts at 60-500m.


Meristics: D IV-V, 11-13; A 18-20; Vertebrae 24

Body highly compressed, elongate-oval in shape, moderately deep, body depth 28-37% SL; upper and lower profiles of body smoothly convex, almost symmetrical; tubular snout very elongate, snouth length 27-30% SL, mouth tiny, at the end of long snout, teeth absent. Second dorsal-fin spine elongate, robust and serrate, spine length 30-38% SL. Body encased in armour, a bony ridge and abdominal scutes present.


Although the Common Bellowsfish reaches a maximum total length of 228 mm (Atlantic Ocean, off Portugal), the species reportedly grows to 180mm in Australian waters.


Body reddish-pink to orange above, pale to silvery below, fins pink; pelagic juveniles overall silvery-blue.


Common Bellowsfish are carnivorous predators that feed near the bottom on small bottom-dwelling invertebrates, especially crustaceans. Prey items sucked into their long snouts include crustaceans (amphipods, copepods, shrimps and small crabs), polychaete worms and foraminiferans.


Reproduction: Oviparous, sexes separate. Reproduction takes place during January and February.

Eggs: Pelagic

Larvae: Neustonic; notch in the anal region

Juveniles: Epipelagic in oceanic surface waters with a neustonic distribution until they grow to 12mm SL. Juveniles reportedly migrate vertically from surface waters during daylight hours to deeper waters at night.


Because of their schooling behaviour, Smooth Bellowfish are regularly taken as bycatch in many commercial trawl fisheries. This species is also traded in the aquarium industry. Bellowsfishes are food for many other fish species, including commercially important species such as John Dory (Zeus faber), catsharks, mackerels and hake.


IUCN Red List: Least Concern


Rather than being a single species distributed worldwide, individuals from different geographic regions may represent separate species. The genus is currently being revised.

Similar Species

Macroramphosus scolopax is most closely related to the Little Bellowsfish, Macroramphosis gracillis, which has a more slender body, a longer snout, a shorter second dorsal-fin spine and a smaller eye.


Macroramphosus is from the Greek makros, meaning great, and rhamphos meaning beak or bill, in reference to the very long snout.

Species Citation

Balistes scolopax Linnaeus 1758 Systema Nat. 10: 329, Mediterranean Sea.


Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson



Common Bellowsfish, Macroramphosus scolopax (Linnaeus 1758)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37279002

Conservation:IUCN: Least Concern

Depth:60-500 m

Max Size:18 cm (Australia)

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