Abrolhos Jawfish, Opistognathus alleni Smith-Vaniz 2004

Abrolhos Jawfish, Opistognathus alleni. Source: Randy Mooi / University of Manitoba. License: All rights reserved


A small yellowish-brown jawfish with a dark chocolate-brown stripe along the midside, a dark chocolate-brown submarginal stripe on the dorsal and anal fins, whitish spots on the cheek, gill cover, pectoral-fin base and below the midlateral stripe, pale fleshy tabs on the tips of the dorsal-fin spines, and scattered white spots on the belly.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Opistognathus alleni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3494

Abrolhos Jawfish, Opistognathus alleni Smith-Vaniz 2004

More Info


Houtmans Abrolhos to Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia.


Dorsal fin X,19-20 (rarely 20); Anal-fin II, 17-18; Pectoral fin 19-20; Caudal fin procurrent rays 4-5 + 3-5, segmented rays 8+8, middle 12-14 branched, total elements 23-26; Vertebrae 10 + 22-23 (rarely 23); Gill rakers 8-10 + 16-18 = 24-28; Oblique scale rows in horizontal series ~21-31; Vomerine teeth 1-3.
Upper jaw rigid, lacking flexible lamina posteriorly, extending 0.4–0.6 eye diameters behind posterior margin of orbit; infraorbitals moderately robust, 2nd and 3rd infraorbitals with large sensory canal openings, 3rd infraorbital with very slight suborbital shelf; lateralline terminating below segmented dorsal-fin rays 13-17; scales absent forward of verticals from segmented dorsal-fin rays 6-9.

Similar Species

Like Opistognathus alleni, O. albomaculatus and O. stigmosus, typically have 10 dorsal-fin spines, 19–21 segmented rays, and pale fleshy tabs on the tips of the dorsal-fin spines. Both species differ from O. alleni in having more scale rows in horizontal series 38–48 (vs. 21–31), lateral-line terminating below segmented rays 5–9 (vs. 13–17) and no vomerine teeth (vs. 1–3 vomerine teeth). 


The species is named in honour of Dr Gerald R. Allen, who recognized it as being undescribed, for making the material available and for his contributions to the knowledge of Indo-Pacific fishes.

Species Citation

Opistognathus alleni Smith-Vaniz 2004, Rec. Aust. Mus. 56: 210, figs 1, 2A, 3A, 4A. Type locality: Northern end of Dicks Island in Goss Passage, 28°30'S, 113°46'E. Houtman Abrolhos Archipelago, Western Australia, depth 30-32 m


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Abrolhos Jawfish, Opistognathus alleni Smith-Vaniz 2004


Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum 201 pp., 70 pls (as Opistognathus sp)

Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 2004. Descriptions of Six new species of jawfishes (Opistognathidae: Opistognathus) from Australia. Records of the Australian Museum 56: 209-224 https://doi.org/10.3853/j.0067-1975.56.2004.1422

Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 2023. Review of Indo-West Pacific jawfishes (Opistognathus: Opistognathidae), with descriptions of 18 new species. Zootaxa 5252(1): 1-180.  https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.5252.1.1

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37388011

Biology:Mouth brooder (males)

Depth:0-33 m

Habitat:Reef associated, in burrows

Max Size:7.4 cm SL


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