Painted Stinkfish, Eocallionymus papilio (Günther 1864)

Other Names: Butterfly Dragonet, Painted Dragonet

A Painted Stinkfish, Eocallionymus papilio, in Sandy Bay, Derwent River, Tasmania. Source: Rick Stuart-Smith / Reef Life Survey. License: CC BY Attribution

A whitish to pink or brown stinkfish, with a somewhat marbled pattern of blue-edged pale blotches on the upper surface, often with two darker bands along the back. Males have fine vertical striations along the side and sometimes on the pectoral fin, bands of blue spots on the tail, blue and orange lines on the anal fin, and broad wavy stripes on the large colourful dorsal fin. Females have a pattern of blotches below and lack the striations and large dorsal fin of males.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Eocallionymus papilio in Fishes of Australia, accessed 22 Jun 2024,

Painted Stinkfish, Eocallionymus papilio (Günther 1864)

More Info


Widespread in Australia, from Mudjimba Island, southern Queensland, around southern Australia to Kalbarri, Western Australia, including around Tasmania.

Inhabits muddy, sandy and shelly areas in bays, harbours and shallow offshore waters at depths to 50 m. This is the most common callionymid in Port Phillip, Victoria.


Dorsal fin IV, 7; Anal fin 6; Caudal fin 9; Pectoral fin 18-21; Pelvic fin I, 5.
Body elongate, tapering; head depressed, eyes close together on top; mouth small, opening forward and downward; dorsal fins separate, pelvic fins large. 


Some authors consider that Synchiropus papilio is the correct name for this species.


The specific name is from the Latin papilio (= butterfly), possibly in reference the large, colourful fins of males.

Species Citation

Callionymus papilio Günther 1864, Annals and Magazine of Natural History 3 14(81): 197. Type locality: Melbourne, Victoria.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Painted Stinkfish, Eocallionymus papilio (Günther 1864)


Castelnau, F.L. de 1873. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. 3. Supplement to the fishes of Victoria. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 2: 37-58 (described as Callionymus ocellifer) See ref at BHL

Fricke, R. 1981. Revision of the genus Synchiropus (Teleostei : Callionymidae). Theses Zoologicae 1: 194, 1-46 figs 

Fricke, R. 1982. Nominal genera and species of dragonets (Teleostei: Callionymidae, Draconettidae). Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale "Giacomo Doria", Genova 84: 53-92 

Fricke, R. 1983. Revision of the Indo-Pacific genera and species of the dragonet family Callionymidae (Teleostei). Theses Zoologicae 3: 1-774 figs 1-212 

Fricke, R. 2000. Callionymidae of New Caledonia, with remarks on related species and descriptions of 10 new species from New Caledonia, Australia, New Guinea, and Hawaii (Teleostei). Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde. Serie A (Biologie) 617: 1-81 figs 1-35 (as Synchiropus papilio)   

Fricke, R. 2002. Annotated checklist of the dragonet families Callionymidae and Draconettidae (Teleostei: Callionymoidei), with comments on callionymid fish classification. Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde. Serie A (Biologie) 645: 1-103 (as Synchiropus (Eocallionymus) papilio)

Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. 

Gomon, M.F. & Yearsley, G.K. 2008. Family Callionymidae. pp. 742-746 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Günther, A. 1864. Description of a new species of Callionymus from Australia. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 3 14(81): 197-198 See ref at BHL

Johnson, C.R. 1971. Revision of the callionymid fishes referable to the genus Callionymus from Australian waters. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 16(1): 103-140 figs 1-26 

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds.) The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. & Kuiter, S.L. 2018. Coastal Sea-Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics 371 pp.

Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs. 

Macleay, W.J. 1881. Descriptive catalogue of the fishes of Australia. Part 2. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 5(4): 510-629 pls 13-14 (described as Callionymus lateralis) See ref at BHL

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Trawl fish from temperate waters of Australia. CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research, Tasmania. 492 pp.

Nakabo, T. 1982. Revision of genera of the dragonets (Pisces : Callionymidae). Publications of the Seto Marine Biological Laboratory 27(1/3): 77-131 figs 1-30 

Ogilby, J.D. 1886. Catalogue of the Fishes of New South Wales, with their principal synonyms. Sydney : Government Printer 67 pp. (described as Callionymus macleayi) See ref at BHL

Whitley, G.P. 1931. New names for Australian fishes. The Australian Zoologist 6(4): 310-334 1 fig. pls 25-27

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37427014

Depth:3-50 m

Habitat:Muddy, sandy, shelly bottoms

Max Size:13 cm TL


Species Maps

CAAB distribution map