Bighead Gurnard Perch Click to enlarge image
A Bighead Gurnard Perch at a depth of 20m, Noarlunga Tyre Reef, Noarlunga , South Australia, January 1999. Image: David Muirhead
© David Muirhead

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    Size 45 cm.


The Bighead Gurnard Perch is a common species found in a variety of habitats, from rocky reefs to deep sponge regions.


The Bighead Gurnard Perch has a relatively large, rounded head and slender body.

Colouration is variable from whitish to greenish, blueish or brown. Pigmentation pattern on the caudal fin changes with growth. Young individuals have a vertical black band basally and another distally on the caudal fin. Older fish have small black spots scattered on the fin. The Bighead Gurnard Perch is the only species of Neosebastes that shows this distinct change (black bands to black spots) in the caudal fin colour pattern, although the caudal fin colour pattern of N. thetidisalso changes with growth (two narrow bands changes to one broad band).

The Bighead Gurnard Perch can be distinguished from other members of the genus by having the following combination of characters: the underside of the mandible has three distinct pores on each side, the lower opercular spine has a spine arising half way along its length, and the third dorsal fin spine is the longest.


It inhabits rocky reefs and sandy substrates in shallow (15 m) to deep waters (600 m).


The species is endemic to Australia. It occurs from South Australia to southern Western Australia.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.


  1. Motomura, H. 2004. Revision of the scorpionfish genus Neosebastes (Scorpaeniformes: Neosebastidae), with descriptions of five new species. Indo-Pacific Fishes. 37: 1-76, pl. 1-2.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.