Dusky Flathead, Platycephalus fuscus Cuvier 1829


Other Names: Black Flathead, Dusky, Estuary Flathead, Flattie, Frog, Lizard, Mud Flathead, River Flathead

A Dusky Flathead, Platycephalus fuscus, at Shelly Beach, Sydney, New South Wales. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike

Summary:

A common flathead in eastern Australia varying in colour from dark brown, greyish brown, sandy brown, olive brown, to almost black above, sometimes with darker bars and pale spots or blotches, and the caudal fin often with a single large dark spot or blotch near the margin on the upper part of the fin. Juveniles have three dark brown bands in juveniles on the tail.

Video of Dusky Flathead at the Gold Coast Seaway


Cite this page as:
CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research & Bray, D.J. 2021, Platycephalus fuscus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Oct 2021, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3359

Dusky Flathead, Platycephalus fuscus Cuvier 1829

More Info


Distribution

Inshore waters of the east coast of Australia from south of Cairns (Queensland) to the Gippsland Lakes (Victoria), and possibly west to Port Phillip. Inhabits sandy and silty areas in estuaries, coastal bays and sheltered reefs, occasionally entering rivers

Features

Dorsal fin I, I, VII, I, 13; Anal fin 12-13; Caudal fin 15; Pectoral fin 19-20; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 95-100.

Body elongate, slightly depressed. Head large (length ca. 29-30% SL), strongly depressed, with several prominent, mostly spineless ridges; two short, stout anteriorly pointing preorbital spines; eyes small (14-15% HL) with long iris lappet; mouth large, extending to level of mid-eye; teeth small, villiform, with a short canine at inner angle of both symphyses, two small patches of villiform teeth on vomer, a single series of small stout teeth on palantines, no greatly enlarged canines; two strong preopercular spines at angle of preopercle, lower slightly larger than upper; 2 or 3 gill rakers on lower limb, 7-10 on upper limb of first gill arch; interopecular flap present.

Scales small, finely ctenoid, covering body and most of head behind eyes; lateral line scales subequal in size to adjacent scales on side, ~130 oblique rows of scales above lateral line, anteriormost one or two scales with small spine or ridge.

First dorsal fin spinous with short base, first two spines very short, detached, following spines much longer, last spine in front of second dorsal fin minute. Second dorsal fin with moderately long base, anterior ray longest, unbranched. Anal fin similar in shape, opposite and slightly longer-based than second dorsal fin. Caudal fin slightly rounded. Pectoral fins short and rounded. Pelvic fins long, based below centre of pectoral fins. Swim bladder absent.

Size

Maximum length at least 120 cm TL (typically 40-80 cm); maximum weight at least 15 kg (typically <6 kg).

Colour

Colour variable; dark brown, greyish brown, sandy brown, olive brown, to almost black dorsally, sometimes with darker bars and pale spots or blotches; pale to whitish ventrally. Caudal fin bluish grey on lower half, brown spotted on upper half; dorsal fins with brown spots on the spines and rays, forming interrupted bands; anal fin whitish; pectoral fins with dense covering of small brown to reddish brown spots, pelvic fins similar but with larger spots.

Feeding

Carnivore - an ambush predator feeding mostly on fishes (piscivorous), but also on large benthic crustaceans.

Fisheries

A very important finfish caught by recreational and commercial fishers in eastern Australia. The Dusky Flathead is the largest and most sought after flathead species, being an important commercial species, especially in New South Wales estuaries. It is mostly caught by gillnetting and beach seining, but may also be taken by trawling.

Remarks

Although Platycephalus cinereus Günther 1872 (a junior synonym of P. fuscus) was described from South Australia, the species has not otherwise been recorded from that state.

Etymology

The specific name is from the Latin fuscus (= brown).

Species Citation

Platycephalus fuscus Cuvier, 1829 In Cuvier & Valenciennes, Hist. Nat. Poiss. v. 4, 1829: 241, Port Jackson, New South Wales.

Author

CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research & Bray, D.J. 2021

Resources

Atlas of Living Australia

Dusky Flathead, Platycephalus fuscus Cuvier 1829

References


Allan, R. 2002. Australian Fish and How to Catch Them. Sydney : New Holland Publishers (Australia) 394 pp.

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

Cuvier, G.L. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1829. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 4 518 pp. pls 72-99. See ref at BHL

Edgar, G.J. 1997. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books. 544pp.

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Platycephalidae. pp. 515-521 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). 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.

Gray, C.A & L.M. Barnes. 2008. Reproduction and growth of dusky flathead (Platycephalus fuscus) in NSW estuaries. NSW Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries Final Report Series. No. 101. ISSN 1449-9967, 26 pp.

Gray, C.A. & Barnes, L.M. 2015. Spawning, maturity, growth and movement of Platycephalus fuscus (Cuvier, 1829) (Platycephalidae): Fishery management considerations. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 31(3): 442–450. Abstract

Gray, C.A., Gale, V.J., Stringfellow, S.L. & Raines, L.P. 2002. Variations in sex, length and agecompositions of commercial catches of Platycephalus fuscus (Pisces: Platycephalidae) in New South Wales, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 53: 1091–1100.

Gray, C.A., Johnson, D.D., Young, D.J. & Broadhurst, M.K. 2004. Discards from the commercial gillnet fishery for dusky flathead, Platycephalus fuscus, in New South Wales, Australia:spatial variability and initial effects of change in minimum legal length of target species. Fisheries Management and Ecology 11: 323–333.

Günther, A. 1872. Report on several collections of fishes recently obtained for the British Museum. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1871(3): 652-675 pls 53-70 (described as Platycephalus cinereus)

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

Imamura, H. 1996. Phylogeny of the family Platycephalidae and related taxa (Pisces: Scorpaeniformes). Species Diversity 1(2): 123-233.

Imamura, H. 2013. Platycephalus mortoni Macleay 1883, a junior synonym of Platycephalus fuscus Cuvier 1829 (Teleostei: Platycephalidae). Ichthyological Research 60: 291–292 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10228-013-0348-9

Imamura, H. 2015. Taxonomic revision of the flathead fish genus Platycephalus Bloch, 1785 (Teleostei: Platycephalidae) from Australia, with description of a new species. Zootaxa 3904(2): 151–207 https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3904.2.1

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

Kailola, P.J., Williams, M.J., Stewart, P.C., Reichelt, R.E., McNee, A. & Grieve, C. 1993. Australian Fisheries Resources. Canberra : Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation 422 pp.

Keenan, C.P. 1991. Phylogeny of Australian species of flatheads (Teleostei, Platycephalidae) as determined by allozyme electrophoresis. Journal of Fish Biology 39(Supplement A): 237-249.

Knapp, L.W. 1999. Family Platycepalidae. pp. 2385-2421 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 p. 2069-2790.

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1994. Family Platycephalidae. pp. 514-523 figs 458-465 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. & Kuiter, S. 2018. Coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 pp.

Macleay, W.J. 1883. Notes on a collection of fishes from the Burdekin and Mary Rivers, Queensland. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 8(2): 199-213 (described as Platycepalus mortoni)

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field guide to trawl fish from temperate waters of Australia, revised edition. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research, Hobart

Neira, F.J. & Miskiewicz, A.G. 1998. Platycephalidae: flatheads. pp. 134-139 in Neira, F.J., Miskiewicz, A.G. & Trnski, T. Larvae of temperate Australian fishes: laboratory guide for larval fish identification. Nedlands, Western Australia : University of Western Australia press 474 pp.

Whitley, G.P. 1931. New names for Australian fishes. The Australian Zoologist 6(4): 310-334 1 fig. pls 25-27 (as Planiprora fusca)

Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Ward, R.D. 2001. Australian Seafood Handbook: an identification guide to domestic species. FRDC / CSIRO Marine Research, 469 pp.

Quick Facts


CAAB Code:37296004

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:1-25 m

Fishing:Commercial, recreational fish

Habitat:Estuaries, coastal marine

Max Size:120 cm TL; 15 kg

Native:Endemic

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CAAB distribution map