Shortfin Gurnard, Lepidotrigla spinosa Gomon 1987

Other Names: Southern Shortfin Gurnard

Illustration of a Shortfin Gurnard, Lepidotrigla spinosa. Source: Martin F. Gomon / Museum Victoria. License: CC BY Attribution

A small reddish gurnard with a white underside, and a black spot on the first dorsal fin between the fourth and seventh spines. Although the lateral-line scales are not especially enlarged, each is armed with several prominent spines.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Lepidotrigla spinosa in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Apr 2024,

Shortfin Gurnard, Lepidotrigla spinosa Gomon 1987

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From about Kangaroo Island, South Australia, to west of Montebello Islands, Western Australia. Inhabits soft sediment areas at depths of 20-130 m. The Shortfin Gurnard appears to be relatively common on shallow prawn grounds along the western coast of South Australia.


Dorsal fin IX + 14–15; Anal fin 14–15; Caudal fin 11; Pectoral fin 11 + 3; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 51–57.

Body of moderate depth (22-26% SL) and length, thick, tapering posteriorly to slender caudal peduncle. Head small (30-36% SL), prominent, rectangular in cross section, encased in bone; profile of snout in front of eyes nearly straight; eyes moderately large (24-30% HL); interorbital moderately depressed; mouth small (upper jaw length 30-40% HL), horizontal; teeth granular, band in each jaw; small but distinct spines on opercula, above pectoral fin bases and on bony process on each side of dorsal fin origin; shallow but distinct groove above and behind each eye, grooves not meeting on top of head; bony rostrum enclosing upper lip with distinct medial notch, each side with several moderately small spines.  
Scales small, ctenoid, firmly attached, covering all of body except chest and anterior portion of belly; lateral line straight, closer to dorsal profile anteriorly than to lateral midline; lateral line scales not especially enlarged but each with several prominent spines; scales along base 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 distinctly short of ventral fin tips except in very small specimens, lower three rays thickened and not interconnected by membranes. Pelvic fins prominent, reaching well beyond origin of anal fin.


Reddish above, white below; black spot on the first dorsal fin between the fourth and seventh spines. 


Taken as by-catch in trawl fisheries.

Similar Species

This small gurnard may be confused with the Butterfly Gurnard, Lepidotrigla papilio. The Shortfin Gurnard is also similar to the Blackspot Gurnard, Lepidotrigla umbrosa, which occurs off southern Queensland to southern New South Wales.


The specific name is from the Latin spinosa (= thorny), in reference to the prominent spine bearing lateral-line scales characteristic of this species.

Species Citation

Lepidotrigla spinosa Gomon 1987, Mem. Mus. Vict. 48(1): 18, fig. 1. Type locality: Albany, Western Australia, 35°00´S, 117°52'E, 38-45m. 


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Shortfin Gurnard, Lepidotrigla spinosa Gomon 1987


Gomon, M.F. 1987. New Australian Fishes. Part 6. New species of Lepidotrigla (Triglidae), Choerodon (Labridae) and Zebrias (Soleidae). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 48(1): 17-23 fig. 1

Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Triglidae. pp. 494-505 figs 442-450 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.

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.

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 See ref online

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37288028

Depth:30-130 m

Habitat:Soft sediment areas

Max Size:12 cm TL


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