Smallspine Turretfish, Tetrosomus reipublicae (Whitley 1930)

Other Names: Turret Fish, Turretfish, Turret-fish

A Smallspine Turretfish, Tetrosomus reipublicae, in Port Stephens, New South Wales, September 2014. Source: Ian Shaw / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A greenish to brown or pinkish boxfish with dark spots in juveniles, an increasing number of blue spots and lines with growth, and two spines on dorsal ridge along the back.
There is confusion around the validity of this species, and some authors consider it to be a junior synonym of Tetrosomus concantenatus.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Tetrosomus reipublicae in Fishes of Australia, accessed 01 Mar 2024,

Smallspine Turretfish, Tetrosomus reipublicae (Whitley 1930)

More Info


Albany to NE of Monte Bello Islands, Western Australia, and north Queensland, to at least Tathra, New South Wales; also in the Lord Howe Province in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west Pacific, from East Africa through Indonesia to New South Wales, northward to southern Japan.
Inhabits inshore reef and seagrass areas.


The flesh and internal organs of Tetrosomus gibbosus are considered poisonous, so likewise, this species should not be consumed.

Similar Species

The similar Humpback Turretfish, Tetrosomus gibbosus, differs in having a strongly elevated dorsal ridge with a large single spine at the tip, a concave snout profile, and rounded caudal fin. 


The specific name is from the Latin reipublicae (= state, nation), the name proposed by Ogilby (1913).
"Lactophrys reipublicae: This name is proposed for the Australian three-angled ostracionid. Ostracion concatenatus Bloch is a synonym of the East Atlantic 0. triqueter Linnaeus, described originally from one of Plumier’s drawings, its habitat being “Les Antilles,” as we are told by Bonnaterre." 

Species Citation

Triorus reipublicae Whitley 1930, Mem. Qld Mus. 10(1): 27, Pl. 1 (fig. 2). Type locality: Moreton Bay, Queensland


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Smallspine Turretfish, Tetrosomus reipublicae (Whitley 1930)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls. (as Tetrosomus concatenatus)

Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. 1976. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30(15): 365-454 figs 1-2 (as Triorus reipublicae)

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp. (as Tetrosomus concatenatus

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls. 

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2 (as Tetrosomus concatenatus)

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp. 

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp. (as Rhinesomus reipublicae

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

Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs. (as Triorus rebuclicae)

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

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293 

Matsuura, K. 2001. Ostraciidae, Aracanidae, Triodontidae, Tetraodontidae. pp. 3948-3957 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218. 

Matsuura, K. 2014. Taxonomy and systematics of tetraodontiform fishes: a review focusing primarily on progress in the period from 1980 to 2014. Ichthyological Research 62(1): 72-113.

Matsuura, K. & Tyler, J.C. 1997. Tetraodontiform fishes, mostly from deep waters, of New Caledonia. pp. 173-208 in Séret, B. (ed.) Résultats des Campagnes MUSORSTOM 17. Mémoires du Muséum nationale d'Histoire naturelle Series A (Zoologie) [1950-1992] 174: 1-213 

Ogilby, J.D. 1913. Ichthyological notes. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 2: 90-93 (as Lactophrys reipublicae - invalid, a nomen nudum) See ref at BHL

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. (as Tetrosomus concatenatus)

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs. (as Tetrosomus concatenatus

Whitley, G.P. 1930. Ichthyological miscellanea. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 10(1): 8-31 fig. 1 pl. 1 (p.29 as Triorus pyxis, and p.27 as Triorus reipublicae) See ref at BHL

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37466008

Depth:0-180 m

Habitat:Reef associated, seagrass beds

Max Size:30 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map