Longsnout Flathead, Thysanophrys chiltonae Schultz 1966

A Longsnout Flathead, Thysanophrys chiltonae, at Guam. Source: David Burdick / http://guamreeflife.com. License: All rights reserved

A light tan flathead, mottled with many white spots and whitish below, with 5-7 darker bands across back, banded lips, and a broad dark bar present below eye. The anterior lateral line scales each bear a small spine.

These well-camouflaged ambush predators often lie buried or partly buried in sand.

Cite this page as:
CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research & Dianne J. Bray, Thysanophrys chiltonae in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 Jan 2020,

Longsnout Flathead, Thysanophrys chiltonae Schultz 1966

More Info


Known from the tropical Indo-Pacific and the Red Sea, from East Africa to the Marquesas Islands, north to the Ryukyu Islands, Japan, and south to New Caledonia, Tonga, and northern Australia. Recorded in Australia from about Gladstone to the Torres Strait (Queensland). 

Inhabits sandy areas near coral reefs, in bays and coastal waters to depths of about 70 m. Often lies buried or partly buried in sand.


Dorsal fin IX, I,VIII, or I,VII, 11-12 (usually 11); Anal fin 12; Pectoral fin 19-22 (usually 20 or 21); Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 50-54 (usually 52 or 53).

Body elongate, slightly depressed. Head large (length ~38% SL), moderately depressed; snout elongate; preorbital spines 1-3; preocular spine 1; supraorbital ridge smooth over anterior half of eye, with serrations posteriorly; suborbital ridge with about 6 or 7 spines; eyes large (~19-24% HL), least interorbital width 3.8-7.2 times in greatest eye diameter; teeth on vomer in 2 separate patches; preopercular spines 3, upper longest, accessory spine usually absent; interopercular margin incised, forming a broad lobe; total gill rakers on first gill arch 5-7 (usually 6).

Scales small, finely ctenoid dorsally, cycloid below, covering body and most of head behind eyes; lateral line scales slightly smaller than adjacent scales on side, oblique scale rows slanting downward above lateral line about equal to number of lateral-line scales; lateral-line scales 50-54 (usually 52 or 53), anterior 1-3 (usually 3) lateral-line scales bearing a small spine.

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 longest first dorsal spines. Anal fin opposite and slightly longer-based than second dorsal fin. Caudal fin truncate to slightly rounded. Pectoral fins moderately small. Pelvic fins long, extending past anal fin origin; based below centre of pectoral fins.


Maximum length about 25 cm, commonly to 16 cm TL.


Well-camouflaged to match the surroundings. Body light tan, mottled with numerous white spots dorsally, whitish below, 5-7 brown bands across back; lips with alternating white and brown bands; a broad brown suborbital bar present. Caudal fin with weak brown bars; pectoral fin with numerous dark spots forming weak bars; pelvic fin with 3-5 brown bars.


May be taken in trawls or on hook and line.


Thysanophrys is from the Greek thysanos, meaning “tassell”, and ophrys, meaning “eye brow” in reference to the papilla on the upper part of the eye.

Species Citation

Thysanophrys chiltonae Schultz, In Schultz et al., 1966, Bull. U. S. Natl. Mus. 202(3): 57, Figs. 146-147. Type locality: Coral head near north end of Lagoon at Rongelap Island, Rongelap Atoll, Marshall Islands, western Pacific, depth 18 feet.


CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research & Dianne J. Bray


Australian Faunal Directory

Longsnout Flathead, Thysanophrys chiltonae Schultz 1966


Knapp, L.W. 1999. Family Platycephalidae, flatheads, pp. 2385-2421. In: K.E. Carpenter & V.H. Niem (eds). FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 4: Bony Fishes Part 2 (Mugilidae to Carangidae). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

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

Imamura, H., H. Ida & J.T. Moyer. 1995. Redescription of a flathead, Thysanophrys otaitensis (Scorpaeniformes: Platycephalidae). Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 42(3/4): 277-283.

Kuiter, R.H. & T. Tonozuka. 2001. Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 1. Eels- Snappers, Muraenidae - Lutjanidae. Zoonetics, Australia. 302 pp.

Motomura, H. & Matsuura, K. 2016. Thysanophrys chiltonae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T69800704A69800897. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T69800704A69800897.en. Downloaded on 16 November 2018.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Randall, J.E., G.R. Allen & R.C. Steene. 1990 Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii. 506 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37296034

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:1-70 m

Habitat:Reef associated, sandy areas

Max Size:25 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map