Melanesian Perchlet, Plectranthias melanesius Randall 1980

A Melanesian Perchlet, Plectranthias melanesius, AMS I.42721-004, 38.7 mm SL, from a large seamount north of Middleton Reef, Lord Howe Rice in the Tasman Sea. Source: NORFANZ Founding Parties. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Plectranthias melanesius in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Melanesian Perchlet, Plectranthias melanesius Randall 1980

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Off Stradbroke Island, southeast Queensland, and a seamount north of Middleton Reef on the Lord Howe Rise, Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in New Caledonia.


Australian material: Dorsal fin X,15-16 (all segmented rays branched); Anal fin III,7 (all segmented rays branched); Pectoral fin 1,5, uppermost and lowermost rays unbranched; Pelvic fin I, 5, all segmented rays branched; Caudal fin - principal rays 9+8; branched rays 8+7, upper procurrent rays 7–8, lower procurrent  rays 7–8, total caudal-fin rays 31–33; Gill rakers 6–7+15–16=21–23, upper 3–5 and lower 1–2 rudiments; Pseudobranchial filaments 12–17; Branchiostegal rays 7; Vertebrae 10+16.
Lateral line complete with 32–34 scales; Scales above lateral line to origin of dorsal fin 3–4; Scales above lateral line to base of fifth dorsal spine 2–3; Scales below lateral line to origin of anal fin 12–14; Diagonal rows of scales on cheek 7–9; Predorsal scales 27–37, extending to area ranging from just short of posterior nostrils (juvenile) to just short of upper lip (adult); Circumpeduncular scales 14–16.
Opercle with 3 flat spines, middle spine longest, upper spine concealed by scales; posterior and ventral margin of preopercle with 19 weak (juveniles) to 64 strong (adults) serrations, serrations continuous around angle.
Dorsal-fin spines with fleshy tabs on their distal tips; fourth or fifth dorsal spine longest; dorsal fin incised before first segmented-fin ray. Caudal fin truncate to emarginate, with filamentous ray on upper lobe.


In life: Head reddish brown dorsally, becoming yellow-brown on snout, lips and in broad oblique stripe from lower part of orbit to angle of preopercle, below which abruptly white; iris yellow, greenish brown dorsally and reddish brown posteriorly, with narrow brown ring around pupil and large black blotch in front of pupil; body tan, becoming white on abdomen, with small dark grey spot in front of dorsal fin origin; broad reddish brown bar from anterior nape to base of third dorsal spine, extending ventrally to mid-side; dark grey-brown bar between bases of seventh dorsal spine and second segmented ray, extending ventrally to ventral edge of body between anus and base of second segmented anal ray; two indistinct yellow-brown bars from soft part of dorsal fin to mid-side; caudal peduncle with bar about 3–4 scales wide extending from dorsal to ventral edges of peduncle, bar grey-brown dorsally, paler reddish brown ventrally below lateral line; mid-body dark bar extending broadly on to dorsal fin, remainder of dorsal and anal fins pale to hyaline with bars from body extending on to fin bases; caudal whitish to hyaline, with small orange-brown elongate spot near base of middle few rays of upper lobe; pectoral and pelvic fins hyaline.


Although Gill et al. (2021) elevated Randall's subspecies Plectranthias kelloggi melanesius to species status, they suggest that it may possibly be a synonym of Plectranthias azumanus.

Similar Species

Plectranthias melanesius closely resembles P. azumanus, P. kelloggi and P. maculicauda.
Differs from congeners in having dorsal rays X,15–16; pectoral rays 15; lateral line complete with 32–34 tubed scales; no antrorse serrations on lower edge of preopercle; scales with basal cteni; melanophores on caudal peduncle form a bar that extends to ventral margin of peduncle.

Species Citation

Plectranthias kelloggi melanesius Randall 1980, Micronesica 16(1): 148. Type locality: south of Isle of Pines, New Caledonia.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Melanesian Perchlet, Plectranthias melanesius Randall 1980


Gill, A.C., Pogonoski, J.J., Moore, G.I. & Johnson, J.W. 2021. Review of Australian species of Plectranthias Bleeker and Selenanthias Tanaka (Teleostei: Serranidae: Anthiadinae), with descriptions of four new species. Zootaxa 4918(1): 1-116.

Randall, J.E. 1980. Revision of the fish genus Plectranthias (Serranidae: Anthiinae) with description of 13 new species. Micronesia 16(1): 101-187. See ref online

Williams, A., Gowlett-Holmes, K. & Althaus, F. 2006. Biodiversity survey of seamounts & slopes of the Norfolk Ridge and Lord Howe Rise : final report to the Department of the Environment and Heritage (National Oceans Office). pp. 203 + Appendices (as Plectranthias sp. B)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37311244

Depth:260-360 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:10 cm SL

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