Deepwater Squirrelfish, Ostichthys kaianus (Günther 1880)

Other Names: Deepwater Soldier, Kai Islands Squirrelfish, Kai Soldierfish

Deepwater Squirrelfish, Ostichthys kaianus. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A reddish squirrelfish with a silvery-white dash on the middle of each scale forming narrow stripes along the sides. The Giant Squirrelfish has a triangular premaxillary groove.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Ostichthys kaianus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024,

Deepwater Squirrelfish, Ostichthys kaianus (Günther 1880)

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North of Port Hedland, Western Australia, and north of Townsville, Queensland, to off Tweed Heads, northern New South Wales. Elsewhere the species occurs in the Indo-west Pacific, from Réunion to Indonesia, New Guinea, north to the South China Sea and Ryukyu Islands of Japan, and east to Samoa.
The Deepwater Squirrelfish has been seen in caves at depths of 182 and 192 m (Heemstra et al. 2006).


Scales above lateral line to midbase of spinous portion of dorsal fin 2½; origin of anal fin beneath spinous portion of dorsal fin; upper procurrent spiniform caudal-fin rays 4 and lower 3; no half scale anterior to first lateral-line scale; pectoral-fin rays 15–17 (usually 16); lateral-line scales 28–30 (usually 28, rarely 30). Dorsal profile of head slightly convex; gill rakers 7–9 + 14–16; last dorsal-fin spine about equal in length to penultimate spine; space between last dorsal-fin spine and first dorsal-fin ray about half as broad as space between last two dorsal-fin spines; depth of body 2.05–2.2 in SL; head length 2.15–2.4 in SL; snout short, 4.2–4.9 in HL; least depth of caudal peduncle 3.8–4.6 in HL Greenfield et al. 2017).


The species is named for the Kai Islands, the type locality.

Species Citation

Myripristis kaianus Günther 1880, Report on the Scientific Results of the Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger 1873–1876, Zoology 1(6): 39. Type locality: Kai Island, Indonesia, Arafura Sea.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Australian Faunal Directory

Deepwater Squirrelfish, Ostichthys kaianus (Günther 1880)


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

Fricke, R. 2017. Ostichthys kinchi, a new species of soldierfish from New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, western Pacific Ocean (Teleostei: Holocentridae). FishTaxa 2(1): 62-70 See ref online

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. 

Greenfield, D.W., Randall, J.E. & Psomadakis, P.N. (2017) A review of the soldierfish genus Ostichthys (beryciformes: Holocentridae), with descriptions of two new species from Myanmar. Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation 26: 1–33. Open access

Günther, A. 1880. Report on the shore fishes procured during the voyage of H.M.S Challenger, in the years 1872–1876. Report on the Scientific Results of the Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger 1873–1876, Zoology 1(6): 1-82 pls 1-32 

Heemstra, P.C., Frickeb, F., Hissmannb, K., Schauerb, K, Smale, M. & Sinkd, K. 2006. Interactions of fishes with particular reference to coelacanths in the canyons at Sodwana Bay and the St Lucia Marine Protected Area of South Africa. South African Journal of Science 102: 461- 465.

Randall, J.E., Shimizu, T. & Yamakawa, T. 1982. A revision of the holocentrid fish genus Ostichthys, with descriptions of four new species and a related new genus. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 29(1): 1-26 figs 1-15 pls 1-2 

Randall, J.E. & Greenfield, D.W. 1999. Family Holocentridae. pp. 2225-2256 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. 

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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37261005

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:128-640 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:36 cm TL

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