Cocky Gurnard, Lepidotrigla modesta Waite 1899

Other Names: Grooved Gurnard, Minor Gurnard, Short-finned Gurnard

Cocky Gurnard, Lepidotrigla modesta. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved

A bright red gurnard becoming whitish below, with a dark red spot on the first dorsal fin, a broad dark red band near margin of the caudal fin, and the inner surface of the pectoral fins is greenish with a blue margin.
The Cocky Gurnard, is the most widespread species in the genus, occurring in offshore waters of southern Australia where it is sometimes trawled in large numbers.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Lepidotrigla modesta in Fishes of Australia, accessed 11 Aug 2022,

Cocky Gurnard, Lepidotrigla modesta Waite 1899

More Info


North of Newcastle, New South Wales, to the Great Australian Bight, South Australia, including Tasmania. Inhabits soft bottoms in offshore waters.


Dorsal fin  IX + 15–16; Anal fin 16; Caudal fin 11; Pectoral fin 11 + 3; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral-line scales 58–62.
Body of moderate depth (24- 28% SL) and length, thick, tapering posteriorly to slender caudal peduncle. Head small (31-36% SL), but prominent, rectangular in cross section, encased in bone; profile in front of eyes concave, especially in large specimens; eyes large (26-31% HL), interorbital extremely depressed;  mouth small (upper jaw length 34-43% HL), horizontal; teeth granular, band in each jaw; small but distinct spines on operculum, above each pectoral fin base and on bony process on each side of dorsal fin origin; a deep groove above and behind each eye, grooves just meeting on top of head; bony rostrum enclosing upper lip with distinct medial notch, each side with several moderately small spines.Scales small, cycloid, weakly attached, covering all of body except chest; lateral line straight, closer to dorsal profile anteriorly than to lateral midline, lateral line scales enlarged with prominent side branches for pores but without prominent spines; scales along bases of both dorsal fins forming a row of enlarged thorn like bucklers.
Dorsal fin in two parts, first tall and curved, second elongate and slightly shorter but of more even height; anal fin similar to second dorsal; caudal fin with concave margin, lower lobe slightly longer than upper. Pectoral fins prominent, tip reaching to or just beyond tips of pelvic fins; lower three rays thick and not interconnected by membranes. Pelvic fins prominent, reaching to or just past origin of anal fin. 

Species Citation

Lepidotrigla modesta Waite 1899, Mem. Aust. Mus. 4(1): 106, pl. 23. Type locality: syntypes off Broughton Island and off Gibbon, New South Wales.  


Dianne J. Bray


Australian Faunal Directory

Cocky Gurnard, Lepidotrigla modesta Waite 1899


Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. 

Gomon, M.F. & Last, P.R. 2008. Family Triglidae. pp. 508-514 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. 

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

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. 

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp.

Richards, W.J. 1992. Comments on the genus Lepidotrigla (Pisces: Triglidae) with descriptions of two new species from the Indian and Pacific oceans. Bulletin of Marine Science 51(1): 45-65.

Waite, E.R. 1899. Scientific results of the trawling expedition of H.M.C.S. Thetis off the coast of New South Wales. Memoirs of the Australian Museum 4: 1-132 figs 1-10 pls 1-31

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37288007

Habitat:Soft bottom, offshore

Max Size:22 cm SL


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