Greenback Flounder, Rhombosolea tapirina Günther 1862

Other Names: Melbourne Flounder, Southern Flounder

A Greenback Flounder, Rhombosolea tapirina, at Battery Point, Derwent River, Hobart, Tasmania. Source: Rick Stuart-Smith / Reef Life Survey. License: CC BY Attribution


A greenish to greyish or brownish flounder, with a pale underside, a distinctly rhomboidal shape, a long fleshy snout, and no pelvic fins on the underside. Darker spots and blotches may be present on the upper side.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Rhombosolea tapirina in Fishes of Australia, accessed 04 Mar 2024,

Greenback Flounder, Rhombosolea tapirina Günther 1862

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Known in Australia from Jervis Bay, New South Wales, to the Great Australian Bight, eastern Western Australia, and around Tasmania. Elsewhere the species occurs in New Zealand, including the Auckland and Campbell Islands.

Adults inhabit sandy, silty and muddy areas in sheltered bays, estuaries, and
inshore coastal waters in depths to 100 m. Greenback Flounder also occur in the deeper channels of estuaries. Females are usually more common in shallower water than males.

Juveniles settle out onto shallow sand and mudflats, blending into the substrate.
They are able to tolerate a range of salinities and can be found in the upper reaches of estuaries.


Dorsal fin 56-69; Anal fin 40-50; Caudal fin 14-17; Pectoral fin 10; Pelvic fin 6 (fin absent on blind side);  Lateral line scales 72-83.
Body deep (47 60% SL), extremely compressed, of moderate length. Head of moderate size (27-32% SL); eyes on right side of head, small (16-21% HL), separated by moderately narrow space; snout slightly extended into fleshy process projecting more or less in front of mouth in adults; mouth of moderate size (upper jaw length on eyed side 23-25% HL), oblique, extending to below anterior edge of lower eye; teeth small, narrow band on blind side in each jaw. 
Scales very small, rather firmly attached, cycloid on both sides of body, covering head except well anteriorly; lateral line on both sides, with slight dorsal curve above pectoral fins, extending well onto head and splitting into two branches.  
Dorsal, anal and caudal fins separate; dorsal fin arising somewhat above tip of snout, first few rays joined by membranes only at base; caudal fin rather truncate. Right pectoral fin slightly longer than left; first ray of left fin without swollen tip. Pelvic fin on eyed side with elongate base originating at anterior extent of chest, connected by membrane to anal fin, blind side fin usually absent.


Adults are nocturnal and feed on benthic invertebrates such as crustaceans and polychaete worms. Juveniles consume small crustaceans such as amphipods and copepods, and polychaete worms.


A serial spawner, with females spawning offshore and in the deeper parts of estuaries from late winter to spring.


Fished commercially and recreationally in south-eastern Australia, with small catches also taken in Queensland and Western Australia. They are taken with bottom-set gill nets and seine nets, and are also caught incidentally in Danish seines and otter trawls. The species is commercially important in New Zealand.


The specific name tapirina (= tapir-like) presumably refers to the fleshy process on the snout that projects in front of the mouth of this species, like the nose trunk of a tapir.

Species Citation

Rhombosolea tapirina Günther 1862, Cat. fish. British Mus. Vol. 4 459. Type locality: Australian Seas


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Greenback Flounder, Rhombosolea tapirina Günther 1862


Barnett, C.W. & Pankhurst, N.W. 1999. Reproductive biology and endocrinology of greenback flounder Rhombosolea tapirina (Günther 1862). Marine and Freshwater Research 50: 35-42.

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Chen, W.-M., Purser, J. & Blyth, P. 1999. Diel feeding rhythms of greenback flounder Rhombosolea tapirina (Günther 1862): the role of light-dark cycles and food deprivation. Aquaculture Research 30: 529-537.

Cox, E.S. & Pankhurst, P.M. 2000. Feeding behaviour of greenback flounder larvae, Rhombosolea tapirina (Günther) with differing exposure histories to live prey. Aquaculture Research 183: 285-297.

Crawford, C.M. 1984. An ecological study of Tasmanian flounder. Ph.D thesis, University of Tasmania, 211 pp. See ref online

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Earl, J. 2014. Population biology and ecology of the greenback flounder (Rhombosolea tapirina) in the Coorong estuary, South Australia. Ph.D Thesis, Flinders University, South Australia.

Earl, J., Fowler, A.J., Ye, Q. & Dittmann, S. 2014. Age validation, growth and population characteristics of greenback flounder (Rhombosolea tapirina) in a large temperate estuary, New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 48(2): 229-244,

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Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Pleuronectidae. pp. 851-859, figs 753-760 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.

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Günther, A. 1862. Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the Acanthopterygii Pharyngognathi and Anacanthini in the collection of the British Museum. London : British Museum Vol. 4 534 pp. (described as both Rhombosolea monopus and R. tapirina) See ref at BHL

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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37461003

Depth:1–100 m

Fishing:Commercial & recreational fish

Habitat:Sandy & silty areas

Max Size:45 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map