Southern Ribbonfish Click to enlarge image
A Southern Ribbonfish found washed up alive on Diamond Head Beach, south of Laurieton, New South Wales, August 2006. Image: Col Waters and Terry White
© Col Waters and Terry White

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    The species grows to at least 2 m in length.


The Southern Ribbonfish is a very long, compressed fish that has a greatly protrusible mouth.


The Southern Ribbonfish has a highly compressed body that tapers posteriorly. It has very large eyes and a large protrusible mouth. The dorsal fin extends nearly the full length of the fish.

This species lacks scales but has dermal tubercles. The tubercles on the ventral margin are enlarged. Those along each side of the dorsal fin pterigiophores are arranged in rows (see bottom image).

The Southern Ribbonfish is silvery in colour but parts of the head may be black.

A single species of Trachipterus is currently recognised from Australian waters. The names T. jacksonensis and T. arawatae have been used in different publications for Australian specimens. Taxonomic work is required to clarify this issue.


The species is usually caught in trawls from deep water but is also occasionally seen washed ashore after storms or even on the surface.


The Southern Ribbonfish occurs in marine waters of South Africa and Australia.

In Australia it is known from southern Queensland and around the south-east of the country to eastern South 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.

Feeding and diet

Dietary items reported for fishes in the genus include bony fishes, cephalopods and planktonic crustaceans. They may be preyed upon by Lancetfishes.


  1. Glover, C.J.M. in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  2. Gomon, M.F., Bray, D. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 2008. The Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Reed New Holland. Pp. 928.
  3. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  4. Heemstra, P.C. & S.X. Kannemeyer. 1984. The Families Trachipteridae and Radiicephalidae (Pisces, Lampriformes) and a new species of Zu from South Africa. Annals of the South African Museum. 94(2): 13-39.