Common Stargazer, Kathetostoma laeve (Bloch & Schneider 1801)

Other Names: Banded Stonelifter, Barred Stargazer, Catfish, Eastern Stargazer, Southern Stargazer, Stonelifter

A Common Stargazer, Kathetostoma laeve. Source: Rudie Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved


A large greyish-brown to tan coloured stargazer, often with two dark saddle-like bands across the back, and white margins to the pectoral and caudal fins.

Common stargazers have huge, square heads and large upturned mouths giving an almost "bulldog"-like appearance.

Great video of a Common Stargazer under Portsea Pier in Port Phillip, Victoria.

Video of  Common Stargazers ambushing their prey in Port Phillip, Victoria.

Common Stargazers under Blairgowrie Marina, Port Phillip.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Kathetostoma laeve in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 May 2024,

Common Stargazer, Kathetostoma laeve (Bloch & Schneider 1801)

More Info


Endemic to southern Australia, from about Southport, Queensland, to Esperance, Western Australia, including around Tasmania. Common in bays, estuaries and inshore coastal waters with sandy bottoms, at 1-60 m.


Dorsal fin 16-17; Anal fin 14-15; Caudal fin 11-13; Pectoral fin 18-20; Pelvic fin I, 5.
Body robust, tapering towards the tail; head huge, squarish, bony; mouth large, upturned, giving an almost "bulldog-like" appearance; eyes on top of the head as the common name suggests; pectoral fins large, with a stout spine on top of fin base.


To 75 cm TL


Body dull greyish to brownish on top, paler below, with two dark bands or saddles across the back and a large dark smudge below the eye; markings becoming indistinct with age.


Ambush predators that often lie buried in the sandy bottom with only their eyes protruding.


Common stargazers may be aggressive, and the large spines above the gill opening are reportedly venomous.


The specific name laeve is from Latin (= smooth) and refers to the lack of scales on this species.

Species Citation

Uranoscopus laevis Bloch & Schneider, 1801. Systema Ichthyologiae Iconibus ex Illustratum: 47, pl. 8. Type locality: New South Wales (as "New Holland").


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Common Stargazer, Kathetostoma laeve (Bloch & Schneider 1801)


  • Bloch, M.E. & Schneider, J.G. 1801. Systema Ichthyologiae Iconibus ex Illustratum. Berlin 584 pp. 110 pls.
  • Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Uranoscopidae. pp. 718-725, figs 630-635 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.
  • Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H (eds) 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.
  • Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Uranoscopidae (pp. 678-683) in Gomon, M.F., D.J. Bray & R.H. Kuiter. Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Reed New Holland : Chatswood, Australia.
  • Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp.
  • Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.
  • Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs.
  • May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp.
  • Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37400003

    Danger:Venomous spines above gills

    Depth:0-60 m

    Habitat:Sandy, shelly bottoms

    Max Size:75 cm TL


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