Shortnose Tripodfish, Triacanthus biaculeatus (Bloch 1786)

Other Names: Blackfinned Triplespine, Black-finned Triple-spine, Blacktail Tripodfish, Sharp-nosed Tripodfish, Shortnosed Tripodfish, Short-nosed Tripod-fish, Silver Leather-jacket, Triplespine, Triple-spine

A Shortnose Tripodfish, Triacanthus biaculeatus. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial

A dusky silver tripodfish becoming paler below, with a very dark membrane on the spinous dorsal fin between the first and third spines (and usually also between spines 3-5), a dusky blotch on the side above and behind the yellow pectoral fin, and an indistinct pale midlateral stripe. The head profile from above the eye to the dorsal-fin origin is slightly convex to straight.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Triacanthus biaculeatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 May 2024,

Shortnose Tripodfish, Triacanthus biaculeatus (Bloch 1786)

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Northern Australia, from Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, to the Burdekin River, Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west Pacific.
Inhabits sandy and muddy areas in coastal and estuarine waters.


Scale-covered ventral surface of pelvis almost as wide anteriorly as posteriorly, not distinctly tapered to a point; margin of head from above eye to dorsal-fin origin slightly convex or almost straight; postorbital length about equal to orbit diameter.


neswith an indistinct silvery stripe along midside of body; spiny . Colour: Upper side dusky silver and lower side creamy silver, 


Feeds on benthic invertebrates.


Taken as bycatch in bottom trawls.


The specific name biaculeatus is from the Latin bi- (= two) and aculeatus (= spined) in reference to the two pelvic-fin spines that are sharply pointed.

Species Citation

Balistes biaculeatus Bloch 1786, Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische Vol. 2: 17, pl. 148(2). Type locality: East Indies


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Shortnose Tripodfish, Triacanthus biaculeatus (Bloch 1786)


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

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. 

Bloch, M.E. 1786. Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische. Berlin : J. Morino Vol. 2 160 pp. pls 145-180. 

Boeseman, M. 1947. Revision of the fishes collected by Burger and van Siebold in Japan. Zoologische Mededelingen (Leiden) 28: 1-242 pls 1-5

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. 

Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp. 

Jeyaseelan, M.J.P. 1998. Manual of fish eggs and larvae from Asian mangrove waters. UNESCO, Paris, 193 pp.

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp.

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 

Marshall, T.C. 1964. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coastal Waters of Queensland. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 566 pp. 136 pls. 

Matsuura, K. 2001. Triacanthodidae, Triacanthidae, Balistidae. pp. 3902-3928 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. 

Ramm, D.C., Pender, P.J., Willing, R.S. & Buckworth, R.C. 1990. Large-scale spatial patterns of abundance within the assemblage of fish caught by prawn trawlers in Northern Australian waters. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 41(1): 79-95.

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1984. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls. 

Temminck, C.J. & Schlegel, H. 1850. Pisces. In, Siebold, P. Fr de (ed.) Fauna Japonica. Leyden : Apud Arnz & Socios Vol. 4 324 pp. 144 pls. (described as Triacanthus brevirostris, type locality Japan)

Tyler, J.C. 1968. A monograph on plectognath fishes of the superfamily Triacanthoidea. Monographs of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 16: 1-364 figs 1-209

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37464002

Depth:0-60 m

Habitat:Sandy/muddy areas

Max Size:30 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map