Western Rock Blackfish, Girella tephraeops (Richardson 1846)

Other Names: Rock Blackfish

A Western Rock Blackfish, Girella tephraeops, at Rottnest Island, Western Australia. Source: Rick Stuart-Smith / Reef Life Survey. License: CC BY Attribution

A large bluish-black to brownish-grey blackfish, with darker fins (sometimes with paler tips), and sometimes paler and darker blotches or mottling on the body. Adults have a bluish eye (brown in juveniles).
The Western Rock Blackfish is reasonably common on offshore rocky reefs where it congregates in small groups under ledges and within caves. It is capable of changing rapidly from its uniformly dark colour pattern to a blotchy colouration.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Martin F. Gomon, Girella tephraeops in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 Nov 2022, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/468

Western Rock Blackfish, Girella tephraeops (Richardson 1846)

More Info


Endemic to Western Australia, from Israelite Bay in the south, to just north of Shark Bay. Found on coastal reefsand rocky headlands, often in turbulent whitewash zones where individuals shelter in caves, under ledges and amongst boulders.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin XIII-XIV, 13; Anal fin III, 11; Caudal fin 17; Pectoral fin 18; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 80-86.
Body of moderate length and depth (approx. 38% SL), compressed, dorsal and ventral profiles evenly arched; caudal peduncle moderately shallow. Head small, (approx. 30% SL), forehead strongly convex; eyes small (approx. 22% HL); mouth small, not reaching below eyes, maxillae concealed beneath respective preorbital bones; each jaw with single outer row of non-overlapping, flattened, tricuspid teeth bordering broad band of minute teeth of similar shape.

Scales small, ctenoid, covering body, most of cheeks, dorsal corner of opercles and bases of dorsal and anal fins; lateral line continuous, parallel with upper profile of body.

Dorsal fin continuous with little demarcation between spinous and soft portions, base of spinous and soft portions about equal, all spines except slightly shorter anterior ones of nearly equal length, longest spines slightly shorter than longest soft rays, rays decreasing in length only slightly posteriorly; anal fin opposite soft part of dorsal fin, first few rays in large individuals considerably longer than longest dorsal fin rays making outer edge of fin concave; caudal fin very large, strongly forked to lunate. Pectoral fins small, upper rays longest. Pelvic fins small, inserted behind vertical through origin of pectoral fin bases by distance greater than snout length.


Taken by recreational fishers around rocky headlands. The Western Rock Blackfish is a powerful fighting fish, although the flesh is considered to be of average quality.

Species Citation

Crenidens tephraeops Richardson, 1846, Zool. Voy. Erebus Terror 2: 69, pl. 41(1, 2).Type locality: King Georges Sound, Western Australia.


Dianne J. Bray & Martin F. Gomon

Western Rock Blackfish, Girella tephraeops (Richardson 1846)


Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Monodactylidae, Arripidae, Kyphosidae, Girellidae, Microcanthidae, Scorpididae. pp. 596-607 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. 1994. A survey of the nearshore reef fish fauna of Western Australia's west and south coasts — The Leeuwin Province. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 46: 1-66 figs 1-6

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Biodiversity of shallow reef fish assemblages in Western Australia using a rapid censusing technique. Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 247-270.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs.

Kuiter, R.H. 1994. Family Girellidae. pp. 613-617, figs 540-543 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.

Richardson, J. 1846. Ichthyology. 53-74 pls 31-41, 43-44 & 53 (part) in Richardson, J. & Gray, J.E. (eds). The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror under the Command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross, R.N., F.R.S., during the years 1839–43. London : E.W. Janson Vol. 2 139 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37361017

Depth:2-20 m

Fishing:Recreational fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:62 cm TL

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