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:
Dianne J. Bray, Paraplesiops meleagris in Fishes of Australia, accessed 10 Dec 2023,

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.


Carnivore - 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 breeding pair 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.


Dianne J. Bray


Southern Blue Devil, Paraplesiops meleagris (Peters 1869)


Bryars, S. 2010. Monitoring marine fishes of conservation concern on Adelaides coastal reefs: results of 2009/2010 surveys for the southern blue devil and harlequin fish. Report to the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 29 pp.

Bryars, S. 2013. Monitoring marine fishes of conservation concern on Adelaide’s reefs: 2013 update for the southern blue devil and harlequin fish. Report to the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board. Dr Simon Richard Bryars, Adelaide. 23 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.

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

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.

Saunders, R.J., S.R. Bryars & A.J. Fowler. 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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37316009

Behaviour:3-45 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:35 cm TL


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