Fanbelly Leatherjacket, Monacanthus chinensis (Osbeck 1765)

Other Names: Fanbellied Leatherjacket, Fan-bellied Leatherjacket, Fan-bellied Leather-jacket, Fan-belly Leatherjacket, Fantail Leatherjacket, Fan-tailed Leatherjacket, Pigfish

A Fanbelly Leatherjacket, Monacanthus chinensis, at Shiprock, Port Hacking, New South Wales. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A cream to yellowish or brownish leatherjacket with brown blotches and mottling on the body, and brown bands on the tail. The Fanbelly Leatherjacket has a and a very large skin flap on the belly, a concave snout, and a filament extending from the upper part of the tail.

A Fanbelly leatherjacket at Vaucluse Bay, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales.

Fanbelly Leatherjackets at the Gold Coast Seaway, southern Queensland.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Monacanthus chinensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

Fanbelly Leatherjacket, Monacanthus chinensis (Osbeck 1765)

More Info


Widespread in Australia from Geographe Bay, WA (33°34'S), around the tropical north to Spencer Gulf, SA (136°50'E). The species occurs elsewhere in the tropical west Pacific.
Inhabits coastal and offshore reefs, estuaries and weedy areas. 


Omnivore - feeds on algae, seagrass, and small invertebrates such as amphipods, caridean shrimps, copepods, tanaids, bryozoans, hydroids, polychaete worms and tunicates. 


Fanbelly Leatherjackets can change colour in response to habitat changes. The bright green alga, Caulerpa taxifolia, is becoming more abundant in Moreton Bay, and studies have shown that juvenile brown leatherjacket morphs can change to an overall greenish colour to match the bright green alga.

Species Citation

Balistes chinensis Osbeck, 1765, Reise nach Ostindien und China: 147. Type locality: China.


Dianne J. Bray

Fanbelly Leatherjacket, Monacanthus chinensis (Osbeck 1765)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37465009

Depth:5-50 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:40 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map