Smallscale Hardyhead, Atherinason hepsetoides (Richardson 1843)

Other Names: Dannevig's Hardyhead, Deepwater Hardyhead, Richardson's Hardyhead, Small-scale Hardyhead, Vera's Hardyhead

Smallscale Hardyhead, Atherinason hepsetoides. Source: Rudie Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved


Small slender schooling fishes with a long slender tail base, a large very protrusible mouth and a wide silvery, reddish or dark midlateral stripe.

Smallscale hardyheads usually school in deeper waters during the day, and move to surface waters to feed at night.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Atherinason hepsetoides in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Sep 2020,

Smallscale Hardyhead, Atherinason hepsetoides (Richardson 1843)

More Info


Endemic to temperate waters of southern and southeastern Australia, from about Sydney Harbour to Gulf St Vincent and Kangaroo Island, South Australia.

Inhabits sheltered bays and deeper estuaries at 1-4 m, and to 30 m in deeper coastal bays. Smallscale hardyheads prefer to schooling in deeper waters during the day, returning to surface waters to feed at night.


Mersitic counts: Dorsal fin V-IX; I, 9-13; Anal fin I, 11-14; Pectoral fin 13-16; Pelvic fin I, 5; Gill rakers (lower limb) 16-20; Scales in midlateral row 58-83; Vertebrae 43-48.

Body long, slender, slightly compressed with a long, slender caudal peduncle. Head small, bluntly pointed, snout short, eyes moderately large.

Mouth terminal, moderately large, jaws reaching to below front of pupil. Jaws extremely protrusible, ascending premaxillary process very long, reaching into interorbital space. Upper jaw covering lower jaw when mouth closed; posterior end of lower jaw greatly elevated.

Lips fused well before corner of mouth and upperlip fleshy at corner of mouth. Teethminute or absent. Gill rakers moderately long, slender. Scales large, cycloid, firmly attached.


Maximum standard length 11 cm.


Translucent silvery, yellow or greenish above and below, with a broad silvery, dark or reddish midlateral stripe; preopercle and opercle silvery; snout and top of head with fine dark speckling.


EPBC Act (Australia): Not Listed

IUCN REd List of Threatened Species: Not Evaluated

Species Citation

Atherina hepsetoides Richardson, 1843, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., 11(68): 178

Type locality: Port Arthur, Tasmania.


Dianne J. Bray

Smallscale Hardyhead, Atherinason hepsetoides (Richardson 1843)


  • 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.
  • Ivantsoff, W. 1978. Taxonomic and systematic review of the Australian fish species of the family Atherinidae with references to related species of the Old World. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Macquarie University, Sydney 701 pp. 118 figs.
  • Ivantsoff, W. 1994. Families Atherinidae, Isonidae. pp. 375-383 figs 336-342 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.
  • Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.
  • McCulloch, A.R. 1911. Report on the fishes obtained by the F.I.S. Endeavour on the coasts of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Part 1. Zoological (Biological) Results. Endeavour 1(1): 1-87 figs 1-20 pls 1-16
  • Raadik, T.A. 2008. Family Atherinidae. pp. 395-400 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.
  • Richardson, J. 1843. Contributions to the ichthyology of Australia. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 1 11(69): 169-182
  • Whitley, G.P. 1951. Studies in Ichthyology No. 15. Records of the Australian Museum 22(4): 389-408 figs 1-14

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37246004

Behaviour:Schooling species

Depth:1-30 metres


Habitat:Coastal bays, estuaries

Max Size:11 cm SL

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