Sailfin Catfish, Paraplotosus butleri Allen 1998

Sailfin Catfish, Paraplotosus butleri, in the Dampier Marine Park, Western Australia. Source: Rick Stuart-Smith / Reef Life Survey. License: CC BY Attribution

Adults are entirely black, while small juveniles have a black head and body with a broad white to yellow margin on the first dorsal fin and continuous dorsal-caudal-anal fin.
School of juvenile Sailfin Catfish at Navy Pier, Exmouth Gulf.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Paraplotosus butleri in Fishes of Australia, accessed 13 Jun 2024,

Sailfin Catfish, Paraplotosus butleri Allen 1998

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Endemic to northern Australia from Shark Bay, WA (25°21'S) to the Torres Strait, QLD (142°44'E).


Meristic features: Dorsal fin I, 115-130; Anal fin 87-102. 

Similar Species

Differs from Paraplotosus albilabris and P. muelleri in having a tall, sail-like first dorsal fin and extremely long nasal barbels, which extend posteriorly to the basal third of the pectoral fin or beyond.


The species is named in honour of W. 'Harry' Butler, who assisted in with the collection of many of the paratypes .

Species Citation

Paraplotosus butleri Allen, 1998, Raffles Bull. Zool. 46(1): 129, fig. 3. Type locality: near Broome, WA [~17°58´S, 122°14´E]. 


Bray, D.J. 2022

Sailfin Catfish, Paraplotosus butleri Allen 1998


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

Allen, G.R. 1998. A review of the marine catfish genus Paraplotosus (Plotosidae) with the description of a new species from north-western Australia. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 46(1): 123-134 figs 1-4 PDF

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls. (as Paraplotosus sp.)

Ferraris, C. 1999. Family Plotosidae. pp. 1880-1883 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 pp. 1397-2068.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37192020

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:0-5 m

Max Size:33 cm SL


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