Southern Blue Devil, Paraplesiops meleagris (Peters 1869)

Other Names: Blue Devilfish, Bluedevil, Western Blue Devil

A Southern Blue Devil, Paraplesiops meleagris, at Lonsdale Arches, Victoria. Source: Sarah Speight / Flickr. License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0


A large inquisitive blue devil with a dark blue to bluish-grey body that is densely covered in iridescent blue spots, and a pale blue margin to the dorsal, anal, caudal and pelvic fins.

Each adults has a unique pattern of markings on the lower part of the gill cover that allows individuals to be identified and monitored. 

Video of a juvenile Southern Blue Devil

A Southern Blue Devil on Boarfish Reef inside Port Phillip Heads, Victoria

Southern Blue Devils in Port Phillip

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2024, Paraplesiops meleagris in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

Southern Blue Devil, Paraplesiops meleagris (Peters 1869)

More Info


Endemic to temperate waters of Southern Australia, from Port Phillip, Victoria, to Exmouth, Western Australia.

Inhabits coastal and offshore reefs and drop-offs, usually sheltering in caves, crevices or under ledges during the day. Individuals have a home range and tend to remain around a particular site.


Dorsal fin XI-XII, 9-10; Anal fin III, 9-11; Caudal fin 17; Pectoral fin 17-19; Pelvic fin I, 4; Lateral line scales: 34-43 + 12-21.


To 33 cm.


Body overall dark blue to bluish-grey, densely covered in bright paler blue spots, and with a pale blue margin to the dorsal, anal, caudal and pelvic fins.


Feeds on crustaceans such as crabs, gastropod molluscs and small fishes.


Blue Devils usually live in breeding pairs and are strongly associated with a particular site, usually a cave or deep rocky overhang.

The sexes are separate and fertilization is external. Females spawn a small mass of adhesive demersal eggs onto rocky surfaces and the male parent guards the eggs until the larvae hatch.


Although of no interest to fisheries, Southern Blue Devils are occasionally taken by charter fishers, and as by-catch in commercial marine scale fisheries.



The Southern Blue Devil may grow to at least 60 years of age. Saunders et al. (2010) found that most fish examined were aged from 7-42 years, and that the oldest individual studied was a male aged 59 years.

Similar Species

May be confused with the Western Blue Devil, Paraplesiops sinclairi, which has yellowish pectoral fins and fewer blue spots on the face and body. The Southern Blue Devil is more common, whereas P. sinclairi only occurs in south-western Australia, and not often seen by divers.

Species Citation

Plesiops meleagris Peters 1869, Monatsberichte der Königlichen Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin 1869: 708. Type locality: Adelaide, South Australia.


Bray, D.J. 2024


Atlas of Living Australia

Southern Blue Devil, Paraplesiops meleagris (Peters 1869)


Castelnau, F.L. de 1873. Intercolonial Exhibition Essays, 1872–3. No 5. Notes on the edible fishes of Victoria. pp. 1–17 in, London International Exhibition of 1873 : Official Record. Melbourne. (described as Bleeckeria catafracta, type locality Victoria)

Castelnau, F.L. de 1873. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. 3. Supplement to the fishes of Victoria. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 2: 37-58 (described as Ruppelia prolongata, based on some of the material already described as Bleekeria catafracta Castelnau, 1873). See ref at BHL

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

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Plesiopidae. in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds) 2008. Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

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

Hoese, D.F. & Kuiter, R.H. 1984. A revision of the Australian plesiopid fish genus Paraplesiops, with notes on other Australian genera. Records of the Australian Museum 36(1/2): 7-18 figs 1-9

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 Research and monitoring Services.

Hutchins, J.B. 1987. Description of a new plesiopid fish from south-western Australia, with a discussion of the zoogeography of Paraplesiops. Records of the Western Australian Museum 13(2): 231-240. See ref online

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

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1994. Family Plesiopidae. pp. 552-558 figs 490-495 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.

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

Mooi, R.D. 2008. Family Plesiopidae. pp. 550-556 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Peters, W.C.H. 1869. Über neue oder weniger bekannte Fische des Berliner Zoologischen Museums. Monatsberichte der Königlichen Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin 1869: 703-711 See ref at BHL

Saunders, R.J., Bryars, S.R. & Fowler, A.J. 2010. Preliminary consideration of the biology of several of South Australia's marine fish species that have conservation or management issues. SARDI Publication No. F2009/000693-1. SARDI Research Report Series No. 426. 41 pp.

Steindachner, F. 1884. Ichthyologische Beiträge (XIII). Anzeiger der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse, Wien 20(22): 194-197 (described as Plesiops gigas, type locality St Vincent Gulf, South Australia)

Steindachner, F. 1884. Ichthyologische Beiträge (13)1. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Fische Australiens. Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Classe. Wien 88(1): 1065–1108 figs 1–8 (as Plesiops gigas)

Williams, J.T. 2022. Paraplesiops meleagris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022: e.T214366294A214366300. Accessed on 22 January 2024.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37316009

Behaviour:3-45 m

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:35 cm TL


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CAAB distribution map