Toothed Ponyfish, Gazza minuta (Bloch 1797)

Other Names: Toothed Pony-fish, Toothpony

A Toothed Ponyfish, Gazza minuta, USNM 445530, Naga City market, Camarines Sur Province, Philippines, November 2017. Source: Jeffrey T. Williams / Division of Fishes, United States National Museum, Smithsonian Institution. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

Silvery with a row of dark spots along the lateral line in freshly caught specimens, canine teeth in both jaws.

Silvery, back greyish, with dark yellow irregular markings extending to below lateral line, sometimes appearing as a row of small blotches along the lateral line, front of anal fin yellow, black pigment on the snout, and a black margin on the spinous dorsal fin. The silvery area below the eye has a narrow extension around the front of the eye.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Gazza minuta in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2024,

Toothed Ponyfish, Gazza minuta (Bloch 1797)

More Info


Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, to Currimundi Lake, southern Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific: East Africa to Tonga, north to Japan, south to New Caledonia. Schools inhabit estuaries, near river mouths and coastal waters over sandy/mud and muddy areas. Juveniles enter estuaries.


Dorsal fin VIII,15-17; Anal fin III,13-14.
Mouth protruding forward; canine teeth in both jaws; Body oval, somewhat compressed, depth 2.2–3.5 in SL; dorsal and ventral profiles equally convex; mouth pointing forward when protracted; head and breast naked; distinct canine teeth in both jaws; anterodorsal scaled area on nape reaching to tip of posterior branch of supratemporal sensory canal. 


Feeds on small fishes, crustaceans, and polychaetes.


Ponyfishes are bioluminescent, and harbour colonies of the biolumnescent bacterium, Photobacterium leiognathi, in a circumesophageal light organ. This luminescent system is sexually dimorphic, enabling males to use species-specific patterns of lateral bioluminescent signaling to attract mates in turbid coastal environments (Sparks et al, 2005)


The specific name is from the Latin minutus (= small), presumably in reference to the small size of this species.

Species Citation

Scomber minutus Bloch 1797, Ichthyologie, ou histoire naturelle, générale et particulière des poissons Vol. 12: 110, pl. 429(2). Type locality: Malabar, India.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Toothed Ponyfish, Gazza minuta (Bloch 1797)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls. 

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

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls. 

Blaber, S.J.M. 1980. Fish of the Trinity Inlet System of North Queensland with notes on the ecology of fish faunas of tropical Indo-Pacific estuaries. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 31: 137-146.

Blaber, S.J.M., Brewer, D.T. & Harris, A.N. 1994. Distribution, biomass and community structure of demersal fishes of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 45(3): 375-396.

Blaber, S.J.M., Young, J.W. & Dunning, M.C. 1985. Community structure and zoogeographic affinities of the coastal fishes of the Dampier region of north-western Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 36: 247-266.

Bloch, M.E. 1797. Ichthyologie, ou histoire naturelle, générale et particulière des poissons. Berlin Vol. 12 142 pp. pls 397–432. 

De Vis, C.W. 1884. New fishes in the Queensland Museum. No. 3. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 9(3): 537-547 (described as Equula dispar, type locality Cape York, Queensland)

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. 

Jones, G. 1985. Revision of the Australian species of the fish family Leiognathidae. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 36: 559-613 figs 1-19 

Larson, H. & Sparks, J.S. 2017. Gazza minuta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T166575A44015980. Accessed on 04 October 2022.

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293 

Russell, B.C. & Houston, W. 1989. Offshore fishes of the Arafura Sea. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 6(1): 69-84

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1984. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls. 

Sparks, J.S., Dunlap, P.V. and Smith, W.L. 2005. Evolution and diversification of a sexually dimorphic luminescent system in ponyfishes (Teleostei: Leiognathidae), including diagnoses for two new genera. Cladistics 21: 305-327.

Woodland, D.J., Premcharoen, S. & Cabanban, A.S. 2001. Leiognathidae. pp. 2792-2823 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 5 2791-3379 pp. 

Yamashita, T., Kimura, S. & Iwatsuki, Y. 1998. Validity of the leiognathid fish, Gazza dentex (Valenciennes, 1835), with designation of a lectotype, and redescription of G. minuta Bloch, 1795. Ichthyological Research 45(3): 271-280

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37341007


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-75 m

Habitat:Estuaries, coastal waters

Max Size:15 cm SL

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CAAB distribution map