Reticulated Jawfish, Opistognathus reticeps Smith-Vaniz 2004

A Reticulated Jawfish, Opistognathus reticeps, from Darwin, Northern Territory. Source: Michael Hammer / Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


A pale greyish jawfish with four dark blotches on the dorsal fin that extend onto the body as indistinct bars, and a reticulated pattern of brownish lines on the top of the head; dorsal, anal, caudal and pectoral fins yellow.

Jawfishes inhabit burrows and the males incubate the developing eggs in their mouths.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Opistognathus reticeps in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Reticulated Jawfish, Opistognathus reticeps Smith-Vaniz 2004

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Recorded in northern Australia from Broome, Western Australia, to North Oxley Island, Northern Territory. All jawfishes inhabit burrows. 


Meristic features: Dorsal fin XII, 15-16; Anal fin II, 13-14; Pectoral fin 22-23; Caudal fin procurrent rays 3–4+3–4, segmented rays 8+8, middle 12 branched, total elements 22–24; hypural 5 present; Vertebrae 12+19; last pleural rib on vertebra 12; epineural ribs 15. Supraneurals absent, insertion pattern 0/0/1/1+1/1/. Gill rakers 9–10+17–19 = 26–29.


The sexes are separate and fertilization is external. Females produce demersal eggs that the male parent broods in his mouth.


The specific name reticeps is from the Latin rete meaning 'net', and ceps meaning 'head', in reference to the reticulated pattern on the top of the head that is a distinguishing feature of this species.

Species Citation

Opistognathus reticeps Smith-Vaniz, 2004, Rec. Aust. Mus. 56: 220, figs 2D, 3F, 11. Type locality: East arm of Darwin Harbour, 12°29'S, 130°53'E, Northern Territory, Australia, depth 0-1 m. 


Dianne J. Bray

Reticulated Jawfish, Opistognathus reticeps Smith-Vaniz 2004


Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 2004. Descriptions of six new species of jawfishes (Opistognathidae: Opistognathus) from Australia. Records of the Australian Museum 56: 209-224. PDF 

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37388018

Behaviour:Males incubate eggs in mouth

Depth:0.5-29 m

Habitat:Soft bottoms - in burrows

Max Size:11.7 cm SL

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