Common Weedfish, Heteroclinus perspicillatus (Valenciennes 1836)

Other Names: Robust Weedfish, Spotshoulder Weedfish

A Common Weedfish, Heteroclinus perspicillatus, at Schnapper Point, Mornington, Port Phillip, Victoria, February 2012. Source: Sascha Schultz / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial


A weedfish with about 7 broken bars along the sides that extend onto the dorsal and anal fins, a large black spot below the first dorsal fin, a dark bar from the eye to the rear of the upper jaw. Common Weedfish also have one spine and three rays in the pelvic fin, and several lobes on the orbital tentacle.

The species is abundant in shallow seagrass and algal beds in Port Phillip, Victoria.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Heteroclinus perspicillatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

Common Weedfish, Heteroclinus perspicillatus (Valenciennes 1836)

More Info


Endemic to southern Australian waters, from eastern Victoria, to Tourville Bay and the Nuyts Archipelago, Great Australian Bight, South Australia, and around Tasmania. Common Weedfish may also occur in southern New South Wales, although the reports remain verified.

Common weedfish live amongst rocks, seagrass and macroalgal beds in bays, tides pools and sheltered coastal waters at depths to 10 m.


Dorsal fin III, XXXI-XXXIV, 3-5; Anal fin II, 21-26; Caudal fin (segmented rays) 10-12; Pectoral fin 12-14; Pelvic fin I, 3; 
Lateral line scales (arched) 14-26 + (straight) 0-2; Gill rakers 1-3 + 5-7 = 7-10.
Body slender, compressed; orbital tentacle with a number of lobes; last fin spine of first dorsal connected by membrane to base of second dorsal-fin; dorsal-fin spines usually with free unbranched tips; anal-fin membranes deeply incised. 


To 20 cm TL


Colour variable, often reddish-brown or greenish, with about 7 broken bars extending onto the dorsal and anal fins; body sometimes plain; a large black spot present below first dorsal fin on each side; a black bar from below eye to upper jaw; pectoral-fin base usually white with a central dark area.


Inhabits bays, estuaries and sheltered coastal waters - in seagrass beds, on rocky reefs in sandy areas with macroalgae, rock pools, intertidal areas, and beneath jetties.


Australia weedfishes are live bearers and the young develop inside eggs and hatch within the female before the well-developed larvae are born live.

Individual females usually carry multiple batches of eggs and/or embryos at the same time.

Species Citation

Clinus perspicillatus Valenciennes, 1836, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 11: 372. Type locality:  Westernport, Victoria.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Common Weedfish, Heteroclinus perspicillatus (Valenciennes 1836)


Castelnau, F.L. de 1875. Researches on the fishes of Australia. Intercolonial Exhibition Essays. 2. pp. 1–52 in, Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 : Official Record. Melbourne. (described as Neoblennius fasciatus) See ref online

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.

Edgar, G.J. 2008. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland 2, 624 pp.

Edgar, G.J., Last, P.R. & Wells, M.W. 1982. Coastal Fishes of Tasmania and Bass Strait. Hobart : Cat & Fiddle Press 175 pp.

Edgar, G.J. & Shaw, C. 1995. The production and tropic ecology of shallow-water fish assemblages in Southern Australia. II. Diets of fishes and tropic relationships between fishes and benthos at Western Port, Victoria. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 194: 83-106. 

Edgar, G.J. & Shaw, C. 1995. The production and tropic ecology of shallow-water fish assemblages in Southern Australia. II. Diets of fishes and tropic relationships between fishes and benthos at Western Port, Victoria. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 194: 83-106.

Gunn, J.S. & Thresher, R.E. 1991. Viviparity and the reproductive ecology of clinid fishes (Clinidae) from temperate Australian waters. Environmental Biology of Fishes 31(4): 323-344

Günther, A. 1867. Additions to the knowledge of Australian reptiles and fishes. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 3 20(8): 45-68. (described as Cristiceps robustus) See ref at BHL

Hindell, J.S., Jenkins, G.P. & Keough, M.J. 2000. Variability in abundances of fishes associated with seagrass habitats in relation to diets of predatory fishes. Marine Biology 136(4): 725-737.

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.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

Hutchinson, N., Jenkins, G.P., Brown, A. et al. 2014. Variation with Depth in Temperate Seagrass-Associated Fish Assemblages in Southern Victoria, Australia. Estuaries and Coasts 37: 801–814.

Jenkins, G.P., May, H.M.A., Wheatley, M.J. & Holloway, M.G. 1977. Comparison of fish assemblages associated with seagrass and adjacent unvegetated habitats of Port Phillip Bay and Corner Inlet, Victoria, Australia, with emphasis on commercial species. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 44(5): 569-588,

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to sea fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

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

Moran, S.M., Jenkins, G.P., Keough, M.J. & Hindell, J.S. 2003. The role of physical disturbance in structuring fish assemblages in seagrass beds in Port Phillip Bay, Australia. Marine Ecology Progress Series 251:127-139,

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.

Richardson, J. 1839. Account of a collection of fishes from Port Arthur, Van Diemen's Land. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 7: 95-100. (described as Clinus despicillatus) See ref at BHL

Scott, T.D., Glover, C.J.M. & Southcott, R.V. 1974. The Marine and Freshwater Fishes of South Australia. Adelaide : Government Printer 392 pp. figs.

Valenciennes, A. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1836. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 11 506 pp. pls 307-343. See ref at BHL

Williams, J.T., Holleman, W. & Clements, K.D. 2014. Heteroclinus perspicillatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T179108A1570666. Downloaded on 17 August 2016.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37416013

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-10 m

Habitat:Reef associated, seagrass, algal beds

Max Size:20 cm TL


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