Whitley's Weedfish, Heteroclinus sp 2

Other Names: Whitleys Weedfish

Whitley's Weedfish, Heteroclinus sp 2. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved

A variably coloured weedfish ranging from green, purple or brownish with 7-8 irregular dark saddles along the back extending onto the dorsal fin, large darker red to brownish spots along the body, and often 3-5 dark stripes along the side. The head is reddish-brown or mottled with several dark brown bars radiating from the eyes, and a large silver to white oblong spot behind the lower part of the eye. Although most individuals are purple to brown, a green form is often occurs amongst green algae in the Sydney area. 
The second dorsal fin has 3 segmented rays (at the rear of the second dorsal fin), and the last two are widely separated from the first ray. Whitley's Weedfish has a low, broad, round orbital tentacle that is about 1.5-2 times as long as wide. The nasal tentacle is short and rounded with an expanded tip.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Heteroclinus sp 2 in Fishes of Australia, accessed 04 Mar 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/5242

Whitley's Weedfish, Heteroclinus sp 2

More Info


Confined to southern Australia, recorded from Minnie Waters to Jervis Bay, New South Wales, the SA Gulfs, South Australia, and the Recherche Archipelago to north of Perth, Western Australia. Inhabits small brown macroalgae beds on coastal reefs at depths to 10 m.


Dorsal fin III + XXIII-XX,2-3; Anal fin II,15-18; Pectoral fin 11-12; Pelvic fin I,3; Caudal fin (segmented rays) 8-10; Lateral-line scales 17 -25 (arched portion) + 22- 28 (straight portion); Gill rakers 2-4 + 6-9 = 8-12.  
Body of moderate depth to deep (depth at anal fin origin 25 33% SL), sides strongly compressed; caudal peduncle very slender. Head of moderate size (24-30% SL); eyes of moderate size (6-9% SL); mouth of small to moderate size (upper jaw length 7-9% SL) reaching to under anterior edge of pupils or as far as middle of eyes; 13-15 circumorbital head pores arranged uniserially; each orbital tentacle low, broad, round (0.9-3.0% SL, usually 0.9-2.4% SL), about one and a half to two times as long as wide; nasal tentacles short, rounded with an expanded tip; gill rakers unbranched. 
Scales on body cycloid; lateral-line scales extending to caudal peduncle, anterior scales overlapping, each with single median posterior pore, posterior scales not overlapping, each with median pore at either end.  
Two dorsal fins, first dorsal slightly elevated (second spine 7.5-11.7% SL), originating over middle of preopercles; membrane from last spine of first dorsal connected basally to second dorsal or fins completely separate; flaps extending posteriorly from dorsal spines bound in membrane; last two dorsal and last two anal rays widely separated from preceding ray, last dorsal ray connected by membrane to posterior part of caudal peduncle; basal half of last anal fin ray attached to caudal peduncle; caudal fin rounded (16.2-21.6% SL). Pectoral fins large, rounded. Pelvic fins jugular, rays stout, not reaching to anus, inner ray about half length of second ray.


Colour variable. Body green, purple, or reddish brown with seven or eight dark saddles along back extending onto dorsal fin; large red to brown (darker than body colour) spots along body, often with three or four distinct dark, longitudinal bands; head uniformly reddish brown or mottled with several dark brown, oblique bars radiating from eyes; large white or silver oblong spot extending posteriorly from behind each eye; pectoral fin base with white to pale crescent shaped bar on upper half; first dorsal dark, other fins with series of brownish-red transverse bands; second dorsal fin with dark patches interspaced by transparent sections.

Similar Species

Whitleys weedfish is distinctive in often having horizontal stripes on the body, and a unique combination of dorsal spine, pectoral ray and gill raker counts, orbital tentacle size, and body depth and first dorsal fin height. 


Bray, D.J. 2021

Whitley's Weedfish, Heteroclinus sp 2


Hoese, D.F., Gomon, M.F. & Rennis, D.S. 2008. Family Clinidae. pp. 696-722 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. & Kuiter, S.L. 2018. Fish watchers guide to coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 pp. (as Heteroclinus sp 3)

Rennis, D., Hoese, D.F. & Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Clinidae. pp. 741-775, figs 650-684B 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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37416026

Depth:to 10 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:9 cm TL


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