Tailspot Goatfish, Upeneus spottocaudalis Uiblein & Gledhill 2017

Paratype of the of the Tailspot goatfish, Upeneus spottocaudalis, from NE of Shelburne Bay, E of Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, CSIRO H 7205-01, 80 mm SL. Source: Dan Gledhill / Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: All rights reserved

A reddish goatfish with 3-4 conspicuous dark spots on the lower lobe of the caudal fin.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Upeneus spottocaudalis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jul 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/5371

Tailspot Goatfish, Upeneus spottocaudalis Uiblein & Gledhill 2017

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Torres Strait, E to NE of Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in southern Indonesia between the Bali Strait and Timor Sea, and in Papua New Guinea.


Dorsal fin VII + 9; Pectoral fin 12-13; Gill rakers 5-6 + 15–18 = 20–23.
Measurements in % SL for adults (for subadults in round brackets): body depth at first dorsal-fin origin 22–25 (22–24); body depth at anus 19–22 (18–20); caudal-peduncle depth 8.6–10 (8.6–10); maximum head depth 19–22 (19–21); head depth through eye 15–18 (16–18); interorbital length 7.3–8.9 (7.7–8.1); head length 30–32 (30–32); snout length 9.7–12 (10–11); postorbital length 11–13 (12–14); orbit length 6.9–8.2 (7.2–8.9); upper jaw length 10–13 (11–13); barbel length 19–22 (21–23); caudal-peduncle length 21–24 (23–25); caudal-fin length 28–32 (30–33); anal-fin height 16–19 (18–19); pelvic-fin length 22–24 (24–26); pectoral-fin length 19–22 (20–23); first dorsal-fin height 19–22 (21–23); second dorsal-fin height 18–21 (18–21).


Fresh specimens with three to five red or pale brown bars on each caudal-fin lobe, the bars on the lower lobe interrupted or replaced by three or four dark-brown rounded or triangular spots at mid-lobe; dorsal, anal and pelvic fins with red pigment forming patches or stripes, barbels yellow, body and head red, with dark dots along lateral line and a saddle behind second dorsal fin; preserved fish with pale-brown head and body, sometimes with remains of pigmentation dorsally and on dorsal fins, bars on upper-caudal fin lobe mostly retained, spots on lower caudal-fin lobe always retained in both adults and subadults. 


Tken as bycatch in commercial prawn trawls.

Similar Species

Upeneus spottocaudalis differs from all other species in the genus in having the following combination of characteristics: 7 dorsal-fin spines, 12 or 13 pectoral-fin rays, 20–23 total gill rakers, head length 30–32% SL, and pectoral fins shorter than pelvic fins, the length of the latter 22–24% SL in adults and 24–26% SL in subadults; it differs from all other goatfishes in the presence of 3 or 4 conspicuous dark spots on lower-caudal fin lobe in fresh and preserved adult and subadult specimens.


The specific name spottocaudalis refers to the conspicuous rounded or triangular dark spots or blotches on the lower caudal-fin lobe in both fresh and preserved specimens, an important diagnostic colour character of this species.

Species Citation

Upeneus spottocaudalis Uiblein & Gledhill 2017, Zootaxa 4318 (2): 298, Figs 1-3. Type locality: Australia, Queensland, Torres Strait, E of Cape York Peninsula, Blackwood Channel, 11°43.8’ S, 143°43.8’ E, 24 m depth.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Tailspot Goatfish, Upeneus spottocaudalis Uiblein & Gledhill 2017


Fricke, R., Allen, G.R., Amon, D., et al. 2019. Checklist of the marine and estuarine fishes of New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea, western Pacific Ocean, with 810 new records. Zootaxa 4588(1): 1-360 https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4588.1.1

Uiblein, F., Gledhill, D.C. & Peristiwady, T. 2017. Two new goatfishes of the genus Upeneus (Mullidae) from Australia and Indonesia. Zootaxa 4318 (2): 295–311 https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4318.2.4

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37355040

Depth:23–35 m

Habitat:Soft bottom

Max Size:10.3 cm SL

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