Flathead Sandfish, Lesueurina platycephala Fowler 1908

Other Names: Common Sandfish, Flathead Pygmy-stargazer, Sandfish

Head of a Flathead Sandfish, Lesueurina platycephala, from Western Australia. Source: Chris Dowling / Flickr. License: All rights reserved


A small sandy-coloured ambush predator with the body flattened anteriorly, eyes close together on top of head,  a large mouth, long-based dorsal and anal fins and large pectoral fins. The cirri fringing the mouth prevent sand entering the mouth when Flathead sandfish is buried.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Lesueurina platycephala in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 Mar 2023, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/508

Flathead Sandfish, Lesueurina platycephala Fowler 1908

More Info


Endemic to temperate marine waters of Australia from Fraser Island (Queensland) to about Geraldton (Western Australia), including around Tasmania, Although rarely seen due to their excellent camouflage, Flathead Sandfish inhabit the surf zone of sandy beaches in coastal waters, bays and estuaries, at depths to 20 m.


Dorsal fin 32-36; Anal fin 36-37; Pectoral fin 17-21; Pelvic fin I, 5; Caudal fin 10; Lateral line 46-49.

Head depressed, body depressed anteriorly, top of head slightly convex to flat in profile, eyes on top, close together; mouth large, directed slightly upwards when closed, lower jaw projecting slightly beyond upper. Mouth surrounded by many cirri. Scales covering most of head, scales absent from front of pectoral-fin base.


To a standard length of 11 cm.


Sandy coloured, scales outlined in pale green, grey or brown on top, underside pale. Individuals are coloured to match the sandy bottom on which they live.


Flathead sandfishes are not only well-camouflaged, but also hide from predators and prey by bury in sand leaving only their eyes exposed. These ambush predators feed on small bony fishes and invertebrates.


The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Larvae are described by Neira (1998).


Of no interest to fisheries.


The genus Lesueurina is named in recognition of Charles Lesueur's work as an ichthyologist at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. The specific name platycephala is from the Greek platys (= flat) and kephale (= head) in reference to the flattened head of this species.

Species Citation

Lesueurina platycephala Fowler 1908, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philad. 59: 440, Fig. 9. Type locality: Victoria, Australia (questionable)


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Flathead Sandfish, Lesueurina platycephala Fowler 1908


Fowler, H.W.  1907-08. A collection of fishes from Victoria Australia. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 59: 419-444. See ref at BHL  

Glover, C.J.M. 1994. Family Leptoscopidae. pp. 717-718, figs 628-629 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  

Gomon, M.F. & Last, P.R. 2008. Family Leptoscopidae. pp. 676-677 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.  

Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds) The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.

Hourston, M., Platell, M.E.,  Valesini, F.J. & Potter, I.C. 2004. Factors influencing the diets of four morphologically divergent fish species in nearshore marine waters. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 84(4): 805-817.

Imamura, H. & Odani, K. 2013. An overview of the phylogenetic relationships of the suborder Trachinoidei (Acanthomorpha: Perciformes). Ichthyological Research 60: 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10228-012-0304-0

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762.  

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

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

Kuiter, R. & Kuiter, S. 2018. Coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 pp.  

Last, P.R. 2001. Leptoscopidae. 3517 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.  

Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs (as Crapatalus arenarius)  

McCulloch, A.R. 1915. Notes on and descriptions of Australian fishes. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 40(2): 259-277 pls 35-37 (described as Crapatalus arenarius) See ref at BHL

Neira, F.J. 1998. Leptoscopidae. in Neira, F.J., Miskiewicz, A.G. & Trnski, T. Larvae of temperate Australian fishes: laboratory guide for larval fish identification. Nedlands, Western Australia : University of Western Australia press 474 pp.

Neira, F.J. & Gaughan, D.J. 1989. Larval development of Lesueurina sp (Teleostei: Leptoscopidae) with notes on the occurrence of the larvae in a south-western Australian estuary. Records of the Western Australian Museum 14(3): 375-383. See ref at BHL

Odani, K. & Imamura, H. 201. New phylogenetic proposal for the family Leptoscopidae (Perciformes: Trachinoidei). Bulletin of fisheries sciences, Hokkaido University 61(2/3): 49-63.

Scott, E.O.G. 1977. Observations on some Tasmanian fishes. Part 23. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 111: 111-180 figs 1-3 (described as Crapatalus arenarius lasti) See ref online

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37398001

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-20 m

Habitat:sandy beaches

Max Size:11 cm SL


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