Blotched Bigeye, Heteropriacanthus cruentatus (Lacepede, 1801)
Most Australian Bigeyes are in the genus Priacanthus. These fishes have an asymmetrical shape. An imaginary line passing horizontally through the tip of the lower jaw runs well above the midline of the body (versus along, or close to the midline of the fish in the Blothed Bigeye).
The Blotched Bigeye inhabits shallow reefs and spends its days hiding in caves. They are nocturnal and feed at night on zooplankton such as shrimp, larval fishes, and small squids and octopuses.
The Blotched Bigeye can be recognised by its reddish colouration, large eye, relatively symmetrical body shape, and by the small elliptical spots on the soft dorsal, anal and caudal fins. It has a scaleless preopercular margin that is covered with small ridges.
H. cruentatus is the only species in the genus Heteropriacanthus.
Like all bigeyes it is usually found sheltered in caves and under ledges during the day.
The species is found worldwide in tropical seas.
In Australia it is recorded from the central coast of Western Australia, around the tropical north of the continent, and south to northern New South Wales.
The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.
Feeding and diet
It feeds on zooplankton at night.
- Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
- Paxton, J.R., D.F. Hoese, G.R. Allen & J.E. Hanley. 1989. Zoological Catalogue of Australia Vol.7 Pisces Petromyzontidae to Carangidae. Canberra: Australian Biological Resources Survey. Pp. i-xii, 1-665.
- Starnes, W.C. 1988. Revision, phylogeny and biogeographic comments on the circumtropical marine percoid fish family Priacanthidae. Bulletin of Marine Science. 43(2):117-203.
- Starnes, W.C. Priacanthidae. in Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem. 1999. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 4. Bony fishes part 2 (Mugilidae to Carangidae). FAO. Rome Pp. iii-v, 2069-2790.