Yellowtail Flathead, Platycephalus westraliae (Whitley 1938)

Other Names: Bar-tailed Flathead, Western Estuary Flathead, Yellowtail Flathead, Yellowtailed Flathead, Yellow-tailed Flathead

A Yellowtail Flathead, Platycephalus westraliae, at Learmonth, Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, November 2018. Source: Alex Hoschke / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

A pale brown flathead covered in small brown flecks, with several indistinct darker bars across the back, and a whitish tail with 3-4 horizontal black bars and a bright yellow blotch near the top of the fin.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Platycephalus westraliae in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 Sep 2020,

Yellowtail Flathead, Platycephalus westraliae (Whitley 1938)

More Info


Fremantle, Western Australia, around the tropical north to Port Hacking, New South Wales. The species also occurs in southern Papua New Guinea and Java.


A Platycephalus with a single small isolated dorsal spine anteriorly, 13 s dorsal and anal fin rays usually, snout short, 25.9–27.7% HL, interorbit wider in larger specimens, 6.3–14.3% HL, postorbital short, 51.6–60.1% HL, the posterior portion of snout and interorbital covered with scales, upper iris lappet broad, usually slightly bilobed, the skinny sensory tubes from the suborbital bones and preopercle not covering the cheek region, preopercule with two spines, the lower slightly longer than the upper, finger-like interopercular flap, a single exterior opening of the lateral line scales (Imamura 2008)


Brown to fawn dorsally with numerous small brown flecks, sometimes with several indistinct dark brown bands across back; whitish ventrally; lower opercular flap with brown spots. Caudal fin whitish, with 3 or 4 horizontal dark, wedge-shaped bars and a prominent bright yellow blotch on upper margin; dorsal and paired fins with small brown spots on rays.

Similar Species

The Yellowtail Flathead differs from the similar Northern Sand Flathead, Platycephalus endrachtensis. in having a broad, usually slightly bilobed, rarely pointed or mostly straight upper iris lappet(vs. a triangular upper iris lappet in P. endrachtensis).

Species Citation

Trudis bassensis westraliae Whitley 1938, Rec. Aust. Mus. 20(3): 199. Type locality: Swan River, WA. 


Bray, D.J. 2017


Australian Faunal Directory

Yellowtail Flathead, Platycephalus westraliae (Whitley 1938)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls. (as Platycephalus endrachtensis

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 vi 201 pp., 70 pls. (as Platycephalus endrachtensis)  

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp. (p. 113, fig.12, an un-numbered fig., as Platycephalus endrachtensis)  

Grant, E.M. 2004. Grant's guide to fishes. Scarborough, Queensland : E.M. Grant Pty. Ltd. 10th, pp.880. (p. 192, Pl 87, as Platycephalus indicus)

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 endrachtensis)  

Imamura, H. 2008. Synonymy of two species of the genus Platycephalus and validity of Platycephalus westraliae (Teleostei: Platycephalidae). Ichthyological Research 55: 399-406.

Imamura, H. 2012. Redescription of Platycephalus angustus Steindachner 1866 (Teleostei: Platycephalidae), a valid flathead in northern Australia and New Guinea. Ichthyological Research 60(2): 112-121 doi:10.1007/s10228-012-0319-6 PDF available

Imamura, H. 2013. Platycephalus mortoni Macleay 1883, a junior synonym of Platycephalus fuscus Cuvier 1829 (Teleostei: Platycephalidae). Ichthyological Research 60(3): 282-286 doi:10.1007/s10228-013-0348-9 PDF available 

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 DOI: Abstract

Knapp, L.W. 1999. Family Platycepalidae. pp. 2385-2421 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.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. (as Platycephalus endrachtensis

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293. 

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1984. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls. (p. 112, unnumbered fig. as Platycephalus endrachtensis)  

Taylor, W.R. 1964. Fishes of Arnhem Land. Records of the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land 4: 44-307 figs 1-68 (as Platycephalus endrachtensis)

Whitley, G.P. 1938. Studies in Ichthyology No. 11. Records of the Australian Museum 20(3): 195-199 fig. 1 pl. 21

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37296020

Biology:Able to change sex

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:1-50 m

Fishing:Commercial, recreational fish


Max Size:47 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map