Dusky Driftfish, Psenes arafurensis Günther 1889

Other Names: Arafura Eyebrowfish, Banded Driftfish, Banded Fat-head

A juvenile Dusky Driftfish, Psenes arafurensis, sheltering beneath a jellyfish at North Rock, northern New South Wales, March 2014. Source: Ian Shaw / iNaturalist.org. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

Adult Dusky Driftfish are a uniform dark brown to black, with dusky fin dorsal and anal fin bases. The deep bodied juveniles are silvery to pale brown, with mottling or bars on the body.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2016, Psenes arafurensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 30 Nov 2022, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/504

Dusky Driftfish, Psenes arafurensis Günther 1889

More Info


Murion Islands to the offshore reefs of north Western Australia, the Arafura Sea, Northern Territory, and the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland to northern New South Wales. Elsewhere the species is circumglobal in tropical and subtropical seas. Juveniles often inhabit near-shore surface waters, often sheltering below jellyfishes, while the adults are probably benthopelagic.


Dorsal fin X-XI + I-II, 18-22; Anal fin II, 21-23; Pectoral fin 18-20; Lateral line scales 55-62.
Body firm, oval, deep (depth > 40% of SL), juveniles deeper-bodied, compressed; eye large, usually surrounded by a fatty ring; operculum thin, with 2 short spines. Mouth small, teeth in upper jaw small, conical, widely-spaced in a single row; lower jaw of adults with long, knife-like close-set teeth; teeth present on vomer, palatines, and base of gill arches, absent from tongue. 
Two barely separate dorsal fins, originating before, or, in large specimens, over pectoral-fin origin; in pectoral fin of adults long, wing-like, with oblique bases, somewhat pointed (short, rounded in juvenile); anal fin spines weak; pelvic-fin origin below pectoral-fin base, attached to abdomen, able to be folded into a groove; Caudal fin of adult deeply forked, tips rounded in juvenile.
Branched mucous canal system beneath skin along midsides; scales small, very thin, cover bases of median fins, on top of head in a narrow band, reach only to between eyes; lateral line high on body.

Species Citation

Psenes arafurensis Günther 1889, Rept Sci. Res. H.M.S. Challenger 1873–1876, Zool.31(78): 13, pl. 2(G). Type locality: Arafura Sea.


Bray, D.J. 2016


Australian Faunal Directory

Dusky Driftfish, Psenes arafurensis Günther 1889


Ahlstrom, E.H., Butler, J.L. & Sumida B.Y. 1976. Pelagic stromateoid fishes (Pisces, Perciformes) of the Eastern Pacific: kinds, distributions, and early life histories and observations on five of these from the Northwest Atlantic . Bulletin of Marine Science 26(3): 285-402.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp. 

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.

Günther, A.E. 1889. Report on the pelagic fishes collected by H.M.S. Challenger, during the years 1873–1876. Report on the Scientific Results of the Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger 1873–1876, Zoology 31(78): 1-47 pls 1-6 

Iwamoto, T., Singh-Renton, S., Pina Amargos, F., Aiken, K.A., Dooley, J., Collette, B.B., Marechal, J. & Kishore, R. 2015. Psenes arafurensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T16545250A16546224. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T16545250A16546224.en. Downloaded on 12 November 2016.

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

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. 437 pp.

Last, P.R. 2001. Nomeidae, Ariommatidae, Tetragonuridae. pp. 3771-3785 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. 6 pp. 3381-4218. 

Parin, N.V. & Piotrovsky, A.S. 2004. Stromateoid fishes (suborder Stromateoidei) of the Indian Ocean (species composition, distribution, biology, and fisheries). Journal of Ichthyology 44(Suppl. 1): 33-62.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37446011

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-650 m

Habitat:Oceanic, benthopelagic

Max Size:25 cm TL

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