Smooth Razorfish, Centriscus cristatus (De Vis 1885)

Other Names: Smooth Razor-fish, Water Shrimpfish

A Smooth Razorfish, Centriscus cristatus. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-Noncommercial


A bright silvery razorfish with a dusky to yellowish-brown or greenish stripe along the side, and several bluish bars along the upper side perpendicular to the midline. The first dorsal-fin spine is elongate, rigid and unjointed.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thomson, V.J. 2024, Centriscus cristatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jun 2024,

Smooth Razorfish, Centriscus cristatus (De Vis 1885)

More Info


The Houtman Albrolhos to Lagrange Bay, Western Australia, and from the Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory, to Moreton Bay, Queensland, including reefs in the Coral Sea; also the Lord Howe Province in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the Western Pacific, from Indonesia east to the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia. Individuals or small groups inhabit estuaries and coastal waters, often swimming vertically in seagrass beds or among seawhips.


Dorsal fin III,12; Anal fin 13-14; Pectoral fin 12; Pelvic fin 3. 

Body elongate, extremely compressed with a sharp ventral edge; enclosed in transparent sutured plates; lateral plate sutures smooth; interorbital space convex, not grooved; snout long, tubular, mouth small. Caudal and soft dorsal fins positioned postero-ventrally; first dorsal-fin spine rigid, horizontal, projecting beyond tail tip, without a jointed segment posteriorly. 


Total length 30 cm.


Body silvery with a dusky to yellow mid-lateral stripe; adults with several blue bars along upper sides.


Razorfishes feed head-down on tiny planktonic crustaceans, especially amphipods and mysids.


Eggs and larvae are planktonic.


Although the species is of no interest to fisheries, it is collected for the aquarium industry.


Similar Species


The specific name is from the Latin cristatus (= crested, ridged), in reference to the "ridged crown" on this species.

Species Citation

Amphisile cristata De Vis 1885. Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. (1)9(4): 872. Type locality: Noosa Beach, Queensland


Bray, D.J. & Thomson, V.J. 2024


Atlas of Living Australia

Smooth Razorfish, Centriscus cristatus (De Vis 1885)


Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Cameron, C. & Pollom, R. 2016. Centriscus cristatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T65350111A67619028. Accessed on 21 May 2024.

De Vis, C.W. 1885. New fishes in the Queensland Museum. No. 5. Proc. Linn. Soc. N. S. W. (1)9(4): 869–887. See ref at BHL

Fritzsche, R.A. & Thiesfeld, K.G. 1999. Families Aulostomidae, Fistulariidae, Macrorhamphosidae, Centriscidae. pp. 2277-2282 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4, 2069–2790 pp.

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp. 

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) 

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Seahorses, Pipefishes and Their Relatives. Chorleywood, UK : TMC Publishing 240 pp. 

Kuiter, R.H. 2009. Seahorses and their relatives. Seaford, Australia : Aquatic Photographics 331 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 1. Eels- Snappers, Muraenidae - Lutjanidae. Zoonetics, Australia. 302 pp.

Mohr, E. 1937. Revision der Centriscidae (Acanthoptergii, Centrisciformes). Dana Reports 13: 1-69 figs 1-33 pls 1-2 

Ogilby, J.D. 1911. Descriptions of new or insufficiently described fishes from Queensland waters. Annals of the Queensland Museum 10: 36-58 figs 5-6

Whitley, G.P. & Allan, J. 1958. The sea-horse and its relatives. The Griffin Press, Adelaide, Australia.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37280002

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Depth:0-47 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:~20 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map