Tiger Flathead, Platycephalus richardsoni Castelnau 1872

Other Names: Deepsea Flathead, Deep-sea Flathead, Flathead, King Flathead, Spiky Flathead, Teethies, Toothy Flathead, Trawl Flathead

Tiger Flathead, Platycephalus richardsoni. Source: Rudie Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved


A greyish-brown flathead with many small orange to reddish-orange spots, and often several large greyish blotches along the midsides. The fins are spotted, and the caudal fin is mostly dusky, especially the outer middle part, with a few small faint dusky blotches dorsally.

Head large, flattened with low, mostly spineless ridges; mouth large with very large canine teeth in jaws; angle of gill cover with two strong, spines of similar size.

Cite this page as:
CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research &Dianne J. Bray, Platycephalus richardsoni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 04 Dec 2020,

Tiger Flathead, Platycephalus richardsoni Castelnau 1872

More Info


Endemic to continental shelf and slope of south-eastern Australia, from off Coffs Harbour (New South Wales) to the Investigator Strait (South Australia), including Bass Strait and Tasmania. Found on sandy and silty bottoms at depths of 20-430 m.


Dorsal fin VIII-IX, 14; Anal fin 14 (rarely 13); Caudal fin 15; Pectoral fin 19-20 (rarely 17, 18 and 21); Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales (pored) 64-74.

Body elongate, slightly depressed. Head large (length 31-34% SL), depressed, with several low, mostly spineless ridges; eyes large (21-25% HL) with small iris lappet; mouth large with greatly enlarged canines on jaws, palatines and on vomer; two strong, similar-sized preopercular spines at angle of preopercle; gill rakers on lower limb of first arch long and slender dorsally, shorter ventrally, 2 or 3 on lower limb, 10-12 on upper limb.

Scales small, finely ctenoid, covering body and most of head behind eyes; lateral line scales slightly larger than adjacent scales on side, ~90 oblique rows of scales above lateral line, anteriormost 1-3 scales with small spine or ridge.

First dorsal fin spinous with short base, first spine very short, detached, following spines much longer. Second dorsal fin with moderately long base, anterior rays longest, nearly as long as fourth spine of first dorsal fin. Anal fin similar in shape, opposite and slightly longer-based than second dorsal fin. Caudal fin truncate. Pectoral fins moderately small. Pelvic fins long, broad, based below centre of pectoral fins. Swim bladder present.


Maximum length at least 70 cm TL; maximum weight at least 3 kg. Tiger flathead commonly grow to a length of 35-55 cm, and a weight of 0.5-1.3 kg.


Grey-brown dorsally with numerous small reddish orange spots, often several large greyish blotches along midline of sides; whitish ventrally. Fins with spots of moderate size; caudal fin mostly dusky, especially toward centre of hind margin, pale basally, with a few small faint dusky blotches dorsally.


Carnivore. The Tiger Flathead is an ambush predator and feeds mostly on fishes (piscivorous), but also on large benthic crustaceans. Unlike many other flathead species, tiger flathead have a swim bladder allowing them to feed in midwater.


An extremely important commercial species within its range, taken by trawl and Danish seine; most abundant flathead caught in Victorian waters in the South East Fishery. Also a significant recreational species, taken by hook and line from inshore areas (e.g. Port Phillip Bay), primarily in the summer months.

Tiger flathead are sold whole (gutted and gilled) and as fillets. Although available throughout the year, they are more common in markets from July to September in New South Wales and Victoria.

Species Citation

Platycephalus richardsoni Castelnau, 1872, Proc. Zool. Acclim. Soc. Vict. 1: 8, Melbourne Market, Victoria.


CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research &Dianne J. Bray

Tiger Flathead, Platycephalus richardsoni Castelnau 1872


Eschmeyer, W.N. (2008) The Catalogue of Fishes on-line. (California Academy of Sciences: San Francisco) Available from: http://www.calacademy.org/research/ichthyology/catalog/fishcatmain.asp (15 March, 2008).

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

Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & Allen, G.R. (2006) Fishes. In: P.L. Beesley & A. Wells (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia Volume 35. Parts 1-3. Australian Biological Resources Study and CSIRO Publishing, 2248 pp.

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.

Morrongiello, J.R. & Thresher, R.E. 2015. A statistical framework to explore ontogenetic growth variation among individuals and populations: a marine fish example. Ecological Monographs 85: 93–115. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/13-2355.1 Abstract

Tilzey, R.D.J. 1994. The South East Fishery. Bureau of Resource Sciences, Canberra. 360 pp.

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:37296001

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:20-430 m

Fishing:Commercial & recreational fish

Habitat:Sandy & silty bottoms

Max Size:70 cmTL; 3 kg


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CAAB distribution map