Longspine Flathead, Platycephalus grandispinis Cuvier 1829

Other Names: Long-spine Flathead, Long-spined Flathead, Spiky Flathead, Western Sand Flathead

A Longspine Flathead, Platycephalus grandispinis, in Nelson Bay, Port Stephens, New South Wales. Source: Dave Harasti / http://www.daveharasti.com/. License: All rights reserved

A yellowish-grey to brown flathead covered in yellow to orange spots, with no bands across the back, the caudal fin yellow above and blackish below with no discrete dark blotches along the rear margin, brown spots on the dorsal and pectoral fins, and a whitish anal fin. The Longspine Flathead has two strong spines at the angle of the preopercle, with the lower spine greatly enlarged, much longer that the upper spine, and almost reaching the rear margin of the gill cover.
In Australia, this species has previously been identified as Platycephalus longispinis - a junior synonym of P. grandispinis (Imamura 2013).

Cite this page as:
Australian National Fish Collection & Bray, D.J. 2020, Platycephalus grandispinis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 01 Mar 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3361

Longspine Flathead, Platycephalus grandispinis Cuvier 1829

More Info


Widespread in inshore and continental shelf waters of Australia from off Fraser Island, Queensland, to about Wilsons Promontory, Victoria, and from Investigator Strait, South Australia, to about Shark Bay, Western Australia. The species is not known from Tasmanian Waters.

Inhabits sandy areas in bays, estuaries and coastal waters at depths to more than 100 m, although most commonly found offshore.


Dorsal fin I + VI-VII, 13-14; Anal fin 14; Pectoral fin 19-20; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 73-82; Gill rakers 19-26.

Body elongate, slightly depressed. Head large (length 31-32% SL), moderately depressed, with several prominent, mostly spineless ridges; eyes large (19-20% HL) with long iris lappet; mouth moderately large, extending to about level of anterior margin of eye; teeth small, villiform, two small patches of villiform teeth on vomer, no greatly enlarged canines; two strong preopercular spines at angle of preopercle, lower greatly enlarged, acute and grooved basally, more than 3 times length of upper; 5-7 gill rakers on lower limb, 14-19 on upper limb of first gill arch; interopecular flap absent.

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

First dorsal fin spinous with short base, first spine 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 truncate. Pectoral fins short and shallowly rounded. Pelvic fins long, based below centre of pectoral fins, reaching anal-fin origin.


Maximum length at least 34 cm TL.


Yellowish-grey to brown dorsally, with numerous yellow spots, no cross bands; whitish ventrally. Caudal-fin upper half yellow, blackish lower half, no discrete dark blotches along posterior margin; dorsal and pectoral fins with brown spots on the spines and rays; anal fin whitish.


A generalist carnivore, feeding on bony fishes, along with a range of benthic invertebrates including crustaceans, polychaetes, molluscs and echinoderms.


Similar Species

The Longspine Flathead is most similar to the Southern Sand Flathead, Platycephalus bassensis, in having the lower preopercular spine much longer than the upper, usually extending nearly to the posterior margin of the opercle, the posteroventral portion of the caudal fin with a blackish or dark-brownish marking, no large canine teeth on the anteromedial portion of the upper jaw, and a distinct interopercular flap.
The Longspine Flathead differs from P. bassensis in having a ridge on the supraoccipital, usually ending in a spine (vs both ridge and spine absent in P. bassensis) and in having no small, dark dots on the dorsal surface of the head and body (vs many such dots in P. bassensis). 

Species Citation

Platycephalus grandispinis Cuvier, in Cuvier & Valenciennes 1829, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons Vol. 4: 242. Type locality unknown.


Australian National Fish Collection & Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Longspine Flathead, Platycephalus grandispinis Cuvier 1829


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

Barnes, L.M., Gray, C.A. & Williamson, J.E. 2011. Divergence of the growth characteristics and longevity of coexisting Platycephalidae (Pisces). Marine and Freshwater Research 62(11): 1308-1317. https://doi.org/10.1071/MF11045 (as Platycephalus longispinis)

Barnes, L.M., Leclerc, M., Gray, C.A. & Williamson, J.E. 2011. Dietary niche differentiation of five sympatric species of Platycephalidae. Environmental Biology of Fishes 90: 429–441 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-010-9752-4 (as Platycephalus longispinis)

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

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

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds) The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.

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

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

Imamura, H. 2006. Rediagnosis of the marbled flathead, Platycephalus marmoratus (Actinopterygii: Teleostei: Platycephalidae), with comments on the composition of the type series. Species Diversity 11: 295-306.

Imamura, H. 2013. Validity of Platycephalus grandispinis Cuvier, 1829, with priority over Platycephalus longispinis Macleay, 1884 (Actinopterygii: Scorpaeniformes: Platycephalidae). Species Diversity 18(2): 183-192. https://doi.org/10.12782/sd.18.2.183

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. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762 (as Platycephalus longispinis)

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) (as Platycephalus longispinis)

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 (as Platycephalus longispinis)

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

Kuiter, R. & Kuiter, S. 2018. Coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 pp.

Macleay, W. 1884. Notices of new fishes. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 9(1): 170-172 (described as Platycephalus longispinisSee ref. at BHL

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. (as Platycephalus longispinis)

Platell, M. & Potter, I.C. 1998. Distributions, size compositions and diets of two abundant benthic ambush-feeding teleosts in coastal waters of south-western Australia. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 78(2): 587-608 (as Platycephalus longispinis)

Platell, M.E. & I.C. Potter 2001. Partitioning of food resources amongst 18 abundant benthic carnivorous fish species in marine waters on the lower west coast of Australia. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 261: 31-54 (as Platycephalus longispinis)

Roughley, T.C. 1957. Fish and Fisheries of Australia. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 341 pp. (as Longitrudis longispinis)

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

Whitley, G. P. 1931. Studies in ichthyology. No. 5. Records of the Australian Museum 18: 138–160, pls 20–21. (as Longitrudis longispinis)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37296036

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:3-75 m

Habitat:Sandy, silty areas

Max Size:34 cm TL


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CAAB distribution map