Celebes Flathead, Thysanophrys celebica (Bleeker 1854)

A Celebes Flathead, Thysanophrys celebica, on the Izu Peninsula, Japan. Source: Izuzuki / www.izuzuki.com. License: CC by Attribution-ShareAlike

A brown to greenish flathead, pale below, with 4-5 indistinct darker bars across the back. Head large, moderately depressed, with a narrow dark band across back of head and a distinct dark bar below eye. Eye with a single small unbranched papilla on upper part and iris lappet with very short branches. Pectoral and pelvic fins with dark spots. Tail with a dark band near base, followed by a clear band, then 4 dark narrow bands on outer part of fin.

Cite this page as:
CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research & Dianne J. Bray, Thysanophrys celebica in Fishes of Australia, accessed 12 Jul 2020,

Celebes Flathead, Thysanophrys celebica (Bleeker 1854)

More Info


Continental shelf of Queensland, Australia from Moreton Bay northward to around Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. Widespread in the Indo-West Pacific including South Africa to Persian Gulf, Sri Lanka, southern India, Gulf of Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan Province of China, Philippines, Celebes, Irian Barat, Arafura Sea and the Solomon Islands. Demersal on sandy substrate in bays and coastal waters to depths of about 45 m.


Meristic counts: Dorsal fin IX, VIII, or I,VII (usually I,VII), 12; Anal fin 12 or 13 (usually 13); Pectoral fin 18-20 (usually 19); Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 50-53 (usually 51 or 52).

Body elongate, slightly depressed. Head large (length ~38% SL), moderately depressed; supraorbital ridge with spines throughout; suborbital ridge with 8 to 10 spines. Preorbital spines 2 or 3; preocular spine l; eyes large (~22-24% HL) with a single small unbranched papilla on posterior half of dorsal surface of eye; villiform teeth in jaws, on vomer in 2 separate patches, and in elongate bands on palatines; preopercular spines 3, upper longest, not reaching half-way to opercular margin, accessory spine present on base, base of lower opercular spine concealed by scales; interopercular flap absent; gill rakers on first arch 5-7 (usually 5 or 6). Scales ctenoid dorsally, mainly cycloid ventrally; lateral line scales slightly smaller than adjacent scales on side. Oblique scale rows slanting downward above lateral line about equal to number of lateral-line scales. Lateral-line scales 50-53 (usually 51 or 52), anterior 2-6 lateral-line scales bearing a small spine. First dorsal fin spinous with short base, first spine about half length of second, third longest. Second dorsal fin with moderately long base, anterior rays longest, nearly as long as longest first dorsal spines. Anal fin similar in shape, opposite and slightly longer-based than second dorsal fin. Caudal fin rounded. Pectoral fins moderate in length. Pelvic fins long, based below centre of pectoral fins, extending beyond origin of anal fin.


Maximum length 20 cm TL, commonly about 10 cm TL.


Brownish or greenish dorsally, whitish below, 4 or 5 dark bands across back; head with a narrow dark band posteriorly and a dark bar below eye. Caudal fin with a dark band basally, followed by a clear band and 4 dark narrow bands on distal part of fin; pectoral and pelvic fins with numerous dark spots.


Carnivore, presumably feeding on fishes and crustaceans.


Thysanophrys celebica is a protandrous hermaphrodite, changing sex from male to female at about 2 years old and 96–117 mm TL (Sunobe et al. 2015)


Taken by trawls and divers over sandy bottom.


Not evaluated


Thysanophrys is from the Greek thysanos, meaning “tassell”, and ophrys, meaning “eye brow” in reference to the papilla on the upper part of the eye. The species name celebica is for Celebes (= Sulawesi), the type locality.

Species Citation

Platycephalus celebicus Bleeker, 1854, Natuurkd. Tijdschr. Neder. Indië 7: Sea of Manado, Sulawesi, Indonesia.


CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research & Dianne J. Bray

Celebes Flathead, Thysanophrys celebica (Bleeker 1854)


Beaufort, L.F., De & Briggs, J.C. (1962) The Fishes of the Indo-Australian Archipelago. XI. Brill, Leiden. 481 pp.

Eschmeyer, W.N. (2008) The Catalogue of Fishes on-line. (California Academy of Sciences: San Francisco) Available from: http://www.calacademy.org/research/ichthyology/catalog/fishcatmain.asp (10 March, 2008).

Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & Allen, G.R. (2006) Fishes. In: P.L. Beesley & A. Wells (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia Volume 35. Parts 1-3. Australian Biological Resources Study and CSIRO Publishing, 2248 pp.

Imamura, H. 1996. Phylogeny of the family Platycephalidae and related taxa (Pisces: Scorpaeniformes). Species Diversity 1(2):123-233.

Imamura, H., H. Ida & J.T. Moyer. 1995. Redescription of a flathead,Thysanophrys otaitensis (Scorpaeniformes: Platycephalidae). Jap. J. Ichthyol. 42(3/4): 277-283.

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762.

Knapp, L.W. (1999) Family Platycephalidae, flatheads, pp. 2385-2421. In: K.E. Carpenter & V.H. Niem (eds). FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 4: Bony Fishes Part 2 (Mugilidae to Carangidae). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

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

Sunobe, T., Sakaida, S. & Kuwamura, T. 2015. Random mating and protandrous sex change of the platycephalid fish Thysanophrys celebica (Platycephalidae). Journal of Ethology DOI 10.1007/s10164-015-0439-3 Abstract

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37296044

Biology:Changes sex

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:1-45 m

Fishing:Commercial bycatch

Habitat:Sandy bottoms

Max Size:20 cm TL

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