Tasselsnout Flathead, Thysanophrys cirronasa (Richardson 1848)

Other Names: Rock Flathead, Tassel-snouted Flathead

A Tasselsnout Flathead, Thysanophrys cirronasa, at Shelly Beach, Manly, New South Wales. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike

A large flathead with a very large depressed or flattened head with strong spines along the ridges and a large eye with a fringed papilla or iris lappet on the top part. 

Body pale brownish to purplish with several variable darker saddles and blotches; first dorsal fin with a broad dark marginal band and narrow diagonal streaks, caudal fin with weak brown bars.

Cite this page as:
CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research & Bray, D.J. 2019, Thysanophrys cirronasa in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Jul 2020,

Tasselsnout Flathead, Thysanophrys cirronasa (Richardson 1848)

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Endemic to the southern half of Australia, from southern Queensland to Montague Island, New South Wales, and Adelaide, South Australia, to South Muiron Island, Western Australia. Inhabits shallow reefs in estuaries and coastal waters at depths to about 35 m.


Dorsal fin I, VIII, or IX, 11-12; Anal fin 11; Caudal fin 15; Pectoral fin 19-21; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 51-55.

Body elongate, slightly depressed. Head very large (~42% SL), very depressed, with several ridges bearing strong spines; eyes large (~18% HL) with narrow, fringed ocular papilla; mouth large with villiform teeth in bands on jaws, vomer and on palatines; preopercular spines 2-3, short, robust; gill rakers on first arch moderately long and slender. Scales small, finely ctenoid, covering body, head naked; lateral line scales slightly larger than adjacent scales on side, oblique scale rows above lateral line about equal to number of lateral-line scales; lateral-line scales 51-55. First dorsal fin spinous with short base, first spine very short, detached, following spines much longer. 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 of moderate size. Pelvic fins long, based below centre of pectoral fins.


Maximum length at least 38 cm TL, and a weight of approx. 500g.


Pale brown to purple with a number of variable dark saddles and blotches. Caudal fin with weak brown bars; first dorsal fin with a broad dark marginal band and narrow diagonal streaks.


Carnivore, feeding on fishes and crustaceans


Little known of biology.


May be taken in trawls or caught on hook and line.



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.

Species Citation

Platycephalus cirronasus Richardson, 1848, Zool. Voy. Erebus & Terror: 114. Type locality: Botany Bay, New South Wales, Australia.


CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research & Bray, D.J. 2019


Atlas of Living Australia

Tasselsnout Flathead, Thysanophrys cirronasa (Richardson 1848)


Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Platycephalidae. In: Gomon, M.F., D.J. Bray & R.H. Kuiter. Fishes of Australia’s Southern Coast. Reed New Holland, Chatswood, Australia.

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds) The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth: Aqua Marine Monitoring Services.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 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.

Imamura, H., Kimura, K. & Quan, N.V. 2019. First record of Thysanophrys papillaris (Actynopterygii: Scorpaeniformes: Platycephalidae) from the western Pacific. Species Diversity 24: 17-22. https://doi.org/10.12782/specdiv.24.17, open access

Imamura, H. & Knapp, L.W. 1999. Thysanophrys papillaris, a new species of flathead from the Andaman Sea and northern Australia (Scorpaeniformes: Platycephalidae). Ichthyological Research 46(2): 179-183

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. In, Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. (eds), Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay, Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum – Nature 54(3): 299-353.

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1994. Family Platycephalidae. pp. 514-523 figs 458-465 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. 

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

McCulloch, A.R. 1914. Report on some fishes obtained by the F.I.S. Endeavour on the coasts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South and South-Western Australia. Part 2. Biological Results of the Fishing Experiments carried on by the F.I.S. Endeavour 1909-1914 2(3): 77-165 figs 1-15 pls 13-34

Richardson, J. 1848. Ichthyology. 75-139 pls 42-43 & 44 (parts), 45-52, 53 in Richardson, J. & Gray, J.E. (eds). The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror under the Command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross, R.N., F.R.S., during the years 1839–43. London : Smith, Elder & Co. Vol. 2 139 pp. See ref online

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37296045

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:1-35 m

Habitat:Rocky reefs

Max Size:38 cm TL; 0.5 kg


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