A larval basslet caught off Rottnest Island Click to enlarge image
A 22 mm long (TL) Basslet, Liopropoma, caught approximately 30 kilometres west of Rottnest Island, Western Australia, June 2005. The second and third dorsal fin spines were tangled around a line that was being retrieved from deep water. Image: Barry Hutchins
© Barry Hutchins

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    sp
    Genus
    Liopropoma
    Family
    Serranidae
    Order
    Perciformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    Basslets generally grow to less than 10 cm in length.

Introduction

About Liopropoma

Fishes in the genus Liopropoma are generally very secretive, living in caves or crevices in coral reefs. They are generally small fishes that grow to less than 10 cm in length. Three species of Liopropoma occur in Australian waters. These are the Headband Perch, L. mitratum, Yellow Reef Basslet, L. multilineatum and Pinstripe Reef Basslet, L. susumi.


Identification

What do Liopropoma look like?

Larval Liopropoma have extremely long ornate second and third dorsal fin spines. These spines have balloon-like structures which are held above the fish.

Three species of Liopropoma occur in Australian waters. These are the Headband Perch, L. mitratum, Yellow Reef Basslet, L. multilineatum and Pinstripe Reef Basslet, L. susumi.


Habitat

Where do Liopropoma live?

Fishes in the genus Liopropoma are generally very secretive, living in caves or crevices in coral reefs.


Distribution

Where are Liopropoma found?

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums.



Biology

Other behaviours and adaptations

Why the fish has ornate dorsal fin spines is not certain. The Smithsonian’s ‘Expedition to Galapagos’ website states that “We don’t know the precise function of these structures, but they look very much like a type of colonial jellyfish known as a siphonophore. Perhaps they look enough like them to deter certain potential predators.” Baldwin et al (1991) state that “The elongate filaments could play a role in energy storage by providing space for the assimilation of excess food; however, long, trailing filaments seem an unlikely place for energy storage because they probably are quite vulnerable to predation. In fact, pigmented swellings or other variations in the shape of the filaments could attract predators, distracting them from the body of the larva. The elongate filaments also might function in predator deception by increasing the apparent size of the lava.”

References

  1. Baldwin , C. C, Johnson, G. D. and P. L. Colin. 1991. Larvae of Diploprion bifasciatum, Belonoperca chabanaudi and Grammistes sexlineatus (Serranidae: Epinephelinae) with a comparison of known larvae of other epinephelines. Bulletin of Marine Science 48: 67-93.
  2. Leis, J.M. and B.M. Carson-Ewart. (editors). 2000. The larvae of Indo-Pacific coastal fishes. An identification guide to marine fish larvae. (Fauna Malesiana Handbooks 2). E.J. Brill, Leiden. Pp. 850.