Comet, Calloplesiops altivelis (Steindachner 1903)

A Comet, Calloplesiops altivelis, at Marsa Alam, Egypt, Red Sea, January 2014. Source: Christa Rorhbach / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution-ShareAlike

A dark brown longfin profusely covered in small whitish spots, and a prominent ocellus or false eyespot on the rear of the dorsal fin.
Video of a female Comet in an aquarium.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Calloplesiops altivelis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 May 2024,

Comet, Calloplesiops altivelis (Steindachner 1903)

More Info


Recorded in Australia from Northwest Cape, WA, One Tree Island, QLD, reefs in the Coral Sea (Lihou Reef and Coringa Islets), and Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. The species occurs elsewhere in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific.

Inhabits outer reefs, sheltering in caves, crevices, holes and under ledges during the day.


Dorsal fin XI, 8-10; Anal fin III, 9. 


Head and body brownish black with small pale blue spots; vertical and pelvic fins dark orange-brown, with many small blue spots; blue ringed black ocellus above base of last 3 dorsal rays; yellow spots at base of upper caudal rays; pectoral rays bright yellow, fin membrane transparent.


Females lay demersal eggs that are guarded by the male parent until the larvae hatch.


The false eyespot on the rear of the dorsal fin is thought confuse predators. When threatened, comets may expose the rear of the body including the eyespot, and are thought to resemble the head of the Whitemouth Moray, Gymnothorax meleagris (McCosker 1978).

Species Citation

Plesiops altivelis Steindachner, 1903, Anz. Kaiserlich. Akad. Wissensch. 40(3): 17. Type locality: Nias Island, off west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.


Dianne J. Bray

Comet, Calloplesiops altivelis (Steindachner 1903)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

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

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Fowler, H.W. & Bean, B.A. 1930. Contributions to the biology of the Philippine Archipelago and adjacent regions. The fishes of the families Amiidae, Chandidae, Duleidae and Serranidae, obtained by the United States Bureau of Fisheries Steamer Albatross, in 1907 to 1910, chiefly in the Philippine Islands and adjacent seas. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 100(10): 1-334 figs 1-27 (p. 317, described as Calloplesiops niveus, a junior synonym)

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.

Kuiter, R.H. 2004. Basslets, Hamlets and their relatives. A comprehensive guide to selected Serranidae and Plesiopidae. Chorleywood, UK : TMC Publishing 1, 216 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Indonesian Reef Fishes. Part 1. Eels- Snappers, Muraenidae - Lutjanidae. Australia : Zoonetics pp. 1-302.

McCosker, J.E. 1978. Synonymy and distribution of Calloplesiops (Pisces : Plesiopidae). Copeia 1978(4): 707-710 fig. 1

Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. A comprehensive guide to the coral reef fishes of Micronesia. Guam : Coral Graphics vi 330 pp. 192 pls.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Russell, B.C. 1983. Annotated checklist of the coral reef fishes in the Capricorn-Bunker group, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Special Publication Series 1: 1-184 figs 1-2

Steindachner, F. 1903. Über einige neue Fisch- und Reptilienarten des k. k. naturhistorischen Hofmuseums. Anzeiger der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse, Wien 40(3): 17-18.

Steindachner, F. 1903. Uber einige neue Reptilien-und Fischarten des Hofmuseums in Wien. Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Classe. Wien 113(1): 15–22 1 pl.

Tyler, J.C. 1967. Redescription and synonymy of the Indo-Pacific plesiopid fish Barrosia altivelis. Notulae Naturae, Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 399: 1-8 figs 1-5

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37316005


Depth:3-45 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:16 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map