Benthocometes australiensis Nielsen 2010

Other Names: Muroto-suisei-ashiro (Japanese name)

Holotype of Benthocometes australiensis, NMV A 29728-016. Source: Dianne J. Bray / Museums Victoria. License: CC by Attribution


Benthocometes australiensis is a small brown cusk eel known only from a single specimen collected off northwestern Australia. It has a short robust body with a short stubby head, a short blunt snout, a small terminal mouth and two short posteriorly-directed spines on the gill cover. The dorsal and anal fins are long-based and connected to the caudal fin; head and body covered in small overlapping scales, lateral line running along upper half of body and not reaching the tail base.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Benthocometes australiensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 03 Dec 2020,

Benthocometes australiensis Nielsen 2010

More Info


Continental slope waters in the Timor Sea off the Kimberley region of north Western Australia, in 390-394 m. Elsewhere the species occurs off Shikoku Island, Kochi Prefecture, Japan. 
The Australian specimen was collected in a beam trawl that mostly included mostly corals, crustaceans, anemones and echinoderms.


Dorsal fin 98; Anal fin 77-80; Pectoral fin 28-30; Pelvic fin 2; Caudal fin 11; Predorsal pterygiophores 4; Vertebrae 49-50 (total), 12 (precaudal); Long gill rakers on first arch 3; Pseudobranchial filaments 7-8.  

Body robust, head short, stubby, eye diameter longer than snout length; snout tip with about 10 small, black skin flaps; mouth terminal, upper jaw short, reaching to below front of eye; teeth in jaws conical, canine-like, palatine tooth patch circular; operculum with two sharp backward-pointing spines; first gill arch with 2–3 small spiny knobs on upper branch and lower branch with three long rakers and 6–7 small spiny knobs on lower branch; pseudobranchial filaments very small; distinct supraorbital pores present.

Dorsal and anal fins long-based, continuous with caudal fin; dorsal-fin origin far forward, above pectoral-fin base, anal fin origin before midpoint of fish, pectoral fin positioned below body midline, almost reaching anus, pelvic fins reaching halfway to anal fin.  

Head and body covered in small overlapping scales; lateral line running midway between dorsal edge and midline of fish, terminating before caudal-fin base.


93 mm SL.


Fresh coloration: brownish overall, peppered with fine black spots; gill cover and peritoneum darker.


Oviparous reproductive mode: the sexes are separate and fertilization is external.


Of no interest to fisheries.


Not evaluated.

Similar Species

Benthocometes australiensis is the only species in the genus found in Australian waters. It differs from B. robustus (an Atlantic species) by having fewer long gill rakers on the anterior arch (3 vs 9–12); few predorsal pterygiophores (4 vs 7–10); palatine dentition in an oval patch (vs an elongate patch); predorsal length shorter (22.0 vs 26.5–31.0 % SL); upper jaw length shorter ( 8.7 vs 11.0–13.0 % SL); dorsal fin origin above vertebra no. 3 (vs over vertebrae 6–7); anal fin origin below 24th dorsal-fin ray (vs below 17–20th); few, fang-like teeth (vs many, small, granular teeth); distinct supraorbital pores (vs pores  undeveloped).


The species name australiensis refers to the regional locality of the type specimen.

Species Citation

Benthocometes australiensis Nielsen 2010, Zootaxa 2561: 60, Figs. 1, 2a, 3A-C , -4.  Type locality: off northwestern Australia, 13°15'54"S, 123°22'27"E to 13°16'21"S, 123°21'24"E, depth 390-394 m.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Benthocometes australiensis Nielsen 2010


Mizumachi, K. & Endo, H. 2019. New Japanese record of the rare cusk eel Benthocometes australiensis (Actinopterygii: Ophidiiformes: Ophidiidae), a first record of the species from the Northern Hemisphere. Species Diversity 24(1): 7-10. Open access

Nielsen, J.G. 2010. Revision of the bathyal fish genus Benthocometes (Teleostei: Ophidiidae) with a new species from off NW Australia. Zootaxa 2561: 59-68.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37228111

Depth:320-394 m


Max Size:11 cm SL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map