Horseshoe Leatherjacket, Meuschenia hippocrepis (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)

Other Names: Horse Shoe Leatherjacket, Horse-shoe Leatherjacket, Purple People Eater, Variable Leatherjacket

A male Horseshoe Leatherjacket, Meuschenia hippocrepis, at Flinders Island, Bass Strait, Tasmania. Source: Andrew J. Green / Reef Life Survey. License: CC BY Attribution


A striking and easily recognised leatherjacket with a distinct horseshoe-shaped marking on the midside. Males are much more brightly-coloured than females, and adults also have two pairs of curved spines on each side of the caudal peduncle.

Horseshoe leatherjackets are often seen amongst kelp and other macroalgae in deeper bays and estuaries on southern reefs. Juveniles often seek shelter around jetties and piers, while adults may form large schools on offshore reefs.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Meuschenia hippocrepis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2024,

Horseshoe Leatherjacket, Meuschenia hippocrepis (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)

More Info


Endemic to southern and western Australia, from Wilsons Promontory, Victoria to about Shark Bay, Western Australia, including northern Tasmania south to at least Bicheno on the east coast..

Horseshoe leatherjackets occur around rocky reefs with kelp and other macroalgae in deeper bays, estuaries and harbours and on offshore reefs along the open coast. Juveniles usually inhabit shallower waters, and often seek shelter around jetties and piers; depth range 0-120 m.


Dorsal fin II, 34-37; Anal fin 32-35; Caudal fin 12; Pectoral fin 12-13; Vertebrae 20.

Body elongate, compressed; adults with two pairs of curved spines on each side in front of the tail; two separate dorsal fins, the first a prominent spine with serrations along the rear edges, followed by a tiny second spine, enabling the large spine to be locked erect or depressed into a shallow groove along the back.


To 60 cm


Greenish above, yellowish below with a distinct black horse-shoe shaped marking behind the pectoral fin, blue lines along the bases of the dorsal and anal fins, and a broad dark vertical bar near the rear of the tail. Males much more brightly coloured than females; juveniles with indistinct markings on sides.


Carnivores - feed on a range of benthic invertebrates. They also feed on jellyfishes such as Blue Blubber, Catostylus mosaicus.


The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. The eggs and larvae are pelagic.


  • IUCN Red List : Least Concern
  • Author

    Bray, D.J. 2020


    Atlas of Living Australia

    Horseshoe Leatherjacket, Meuschenia hippocrepis (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)


    Harvey, E., Cappo, M., Kendrick, G. & McLean, D. 2013. Coastal fish assemblages reflect geological and oceanographic gradients within an Australian zootone. PLoS ONE 8(11): e80955.

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    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37465004

    Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

    Depth:1-120 m

    Habitat:Reef associated

    Max Size:60 cm TL


    Species Maps

    CAAB distribution map