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 becoming pale below, with 4-5 indistinct darker bars across the back, a narrow dark band across back of head and a distinct dark bar below eye, dark spots on the pectoral and pelvic fins, and the iris lappet with very short branches. The caudal fin has a dark basal band, followed by a clear band, then 4 dark narrow bands on the outer part of the fin.

Cite this page as:
Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO & Bray, D.J. 2020, Thysanophrys celebica in Fishes of Australia, accessed 02 Dec 2022, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3231

Celebes Flathead, Thysanophrys celebica (Bleeker 1854)

More Info


North West Shelf, Western Australia, to Southport, Queensland. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the tropical Indo-West Pacific: East Africa, Madagascar and Persian Gulf east to the Solomon Islands, north to Japan, south to eastern Australia. 

Inhabits sandy substrates often near reefs, in shallow bays and coastal waters, at depths to about 45 m.


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.


Presumably feeds 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 as bycatch in trawls.


Not evaluated


The species is named celebica for Celebes (= Sulawesi), the type locality.

Species Citation

Platycephalus celebicus Bleeker, 1854, Natuurkd. Tijdschr. Neder. Indië 7: 450. Type locality: Sea of Manado, Sulawesi, Indonesia.


Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO & Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Celebes Flathead, Thysanophrys celebica (Bleeker 1854)


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

Bleeker, P. 1854. Zesde bijdrage tot de kennis der ichthyologische fauna van Celebes. Natuurkundig Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsch Indië 7: 449-452 See ref at BHL

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

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

Imamura, H., Ida, H. & Moyer, J.T. 1995. Redescription of a flathead, Thysanophrys otaitensis (Scorpaeniformes: Platycephalidae). Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 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.

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) 

Knapp, L.W. 1999. Family Platycepalidae. pp. 2385-2421 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 pp. 2069-2790. 

Knapp, L.W. 2013. Descriptions of four new species of Thysanophrys (Scorpaeniformes: Platycephalidae) from the Western Indian Ocean. Zootaxa 3608(2): 127-136

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

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293

Motomura, H. & Matsuura, K. 2016. Thysanophrys celebica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T46097767A46665159. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T46097767A46665159.en. Downloaded on 3 April 2020.

Puckridge, M., Andreakis, N., Appleyard, S. & Ward, R. 2013. Cryptic diversity in flathead fishes (Scorpaeniformes: Platycephalidae) across the Indo-West Pacific uncovered by DNA barcoding. Molecular Ecology Resources 13: 32-42.

Sunobe, T., Sakaida, S. & Kuwamura, T. 2015. Random mating and protandrous sex change of the platycephalid fish Thysanophrys celebica (Platycephalidae). Journal of Ethology 34: 15-21 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10164-015-0439-3

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37296044


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:1-45 m

Habitat:Sandy areas

Max Size:20 cm TL

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