Longray Ghost Flathead, Hoplichthys filamentosus Matsubara & Ochiai 1950

A Longray Ghost Flathead, Hoplichthys filamentosus, from off north Western Australia. Source: Martin F. Gomon / Museum Victoria. License: CC by Attribution

A large ghost flathead with elongate dorsal, pectoral and pelvic fins. Males have the first three dorsal-fin spines long and filamentous, while the dorsal fin is very low in females.

Cite this page as:
CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research, Hoplichthys filamentosus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Apr 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3373

Longray Ghost Flathead, Hoplichthys filamentosus Matsubara & Ochiai 1950

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Benthic on sandy and muddy soft-bottom habitats of outer continental shelves and upper continental slopes (~117-470m) of the Western Pacific (including Japan and the South China Sea) and southeast Indian Ocean off Australia. The Australian distribution is from central Queensland (off Townsend I, 22o09' S) southwards to central New South Wales (off Broken Bay, 33o30' S) on the east coast and from Port Hedland (17o59' S) to Dampier (18o43' S) in Western Australia. Possibly more widespread in Western Australia: records northwards to Scott Plateau (~14oS) and southwards to Shark Bay (~25oS) require confirmation.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin V-VII (usually VI), 14-15; Anal fin 17; Pectoral fin 12-13 + 2-4 (usually 13 + 3); Pelvic fin I, 5. Lateral line (scutes) 27-29 (usually 28); Gill rakers 2-3 + 9-13 = 13-15 (+1-4 rudiments) on first gill arch; Vertebrae 26.

Interorbital space moderately broad, deeply concave, ~26-42% eye length. Each lateral scute with a strong spine. Ventral side of lower jaw without spines. Body depressed, shallow (~6-14.3% SL; usually 6-10%), elongate, moderately narrow, tapering to narrow caudal peduncle. Head large (~28-37% SL), very broad and depressed; eyes of moderate size (~20-26% HL); mouth large (upper jaw length ~38-43% HL), horizontal, upper jaw projecting; teeth minute, granular, in broad band on jaws, vomer and palatines. Underside of head always with a tuft of tooth-like spines at outer posterior angle of each mandible; underside of lower jaw without spines. Snout, supraorbital rim, cheek, occiput and opercle roughened with low serrated ridges; lateral margin of head thin, notched into four rather distinct lobes represented by preorbital bone, first suborbital bone, second suborbital bone and preopercle; lateral margin of preorbital lobe armed with 6-7 spines; first suborbital lobe small and less conspicuous, lateral edge armed with two rows of spinous ridges, the lower ridge bearing 4-5 spines and upper ridge with 7 spines; second suborbital lobe largest, the lateral ridge with 9 rather stout spines; preopercular lobe armed with 6 spines, last largest, but feeble, never extending beyond middle of opercle.

Two dorsal fins, the first inserted above tip of fourth spine of lateral scutes. Considerable sexual dimorphism in respect to height of the dorsal fins. In males, the anterior three dorsal spines (the first or second spine longest) and soft dorsal rays are filamentous except for the first or last soft ray; in females, dorsal fins are very low, the second spine is longest and never reaches to insertion of second dorsal when the fin is depressed and none of the dorsal soft rays are filamentous. Pectoral fins long and filamentous. Anal fin low, the eighth ray longest but always less than a third of head length; anal fin insertion slightly posterior to origin of second dorsal fin, ending half an eye diameter posterior to end of dorsal fin. Pelvic fins long, just reaching anus. Caudal fin truncated or slightly rounded. Pectoral fins long, fourth or fifth ray longest, reaches to fourteenth or fifteenth lateral scute.


Maximum standard length at least 30 cm; to at least 34 cm total length.


In preservative: yellowish brown, whitish ventrally. Four broad, obscure dusky bars dorsally, the first below first dorsal fin, the second and third below second dorsal fin and the last at the base of the caudal fin. First dorsal fin dusky, pectoral fin brownish, with a small blackish blotch near tip of the fin. Second dorsal, anal and pelvic fins pale. Lining of buccal and branchial cavities and peritoneum pale.


Food items of Hoplichthys species include fishes and decapod crustaceans.


Usually taken as by-catch in trawls, although not commercially harvested.



Species Citation

Hoplichthys filamentosus Matsubara & Ochiai 1950, Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 1(2-3): (149) 155, Fig. 3, off Heta, Suruga Bay, Japan.


CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research

Longray Ghost Flathead, Hoplichthys filamentosus Matsubara & Ochiai 1950


McGrouther, M.A. (2000) In Randall, J.E. & K.K.P. Lim A checklist of the fishes of the South China Sea. Raffles Bull. Zool. Supplement 8: 569-667.

McGrouther, M.A. (1999). Family Hoplichthyidae. Pp. 2422-2424 In Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome. FAO Vol. 4 pp. 2069-2790.

Matsubara, K. (1955). Two rare deep-sea fishes from Japan. Bulletin of the Biogeographical Society of Japan 16-19: 302-310.

Matsubara, K. & Ochiai, A. (1950). Studies on Hoplichthyidae, a family of mail-cheeked fishes found in Japan and its adjacent waters. I, II and III. Jpn. J. Ichthyol. 1 (2-3): 73-88, 145-156.

Nakabo, T. (2002) (ed.) Fishes of Japan with pictorial keys to the species, English edition. Tokai University Press. Fish. Japan Pict. Keys Species v. 1, 866 pp.

Ochiai, A. (1984) In Masuda, H., K. Amaoka, C. Araga, T. Uyeno and T. Yoshino (1984). The fishes of the Japanese Archipelago. Tokai Univ. Press. 370 pp.

Paxton, J.R., Gates, J.E. McGrouther, M.A. & Hoese, D.F. (2006). Hoplichthyidae (pp. 949-950). In: Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. Fishes.

Shinohara, G., Sato, T., Aonuma, Y., Horikawa, H. Matsuura, K., Nakabo, T. & Sato, K. (2005) Annotated checklist of deep-sea fishes from the waters around the Ryukyu Islands, Japan. Deep-sea fauna and pollutants in the Nansei Islands. National Science Museum Monographs 29: 385-452.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37297005

Depth:300-550 m

Fishing:Trawl by-catch

Habitat:Bottom dweller

Max Size:34 cm TL

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