General Description

Body deep, compressed, with a short pointed snout, two tall separate dorsal fins, the second with elongate rays, anal and pelvic fins prominent. Silvery-white to brownish with prominent broad and narrow dark bands, leading edges of dorsal, anal and pelvic fins white. Usually 20 cm long head to tail tip (up to 25 cm).


Although superficially resembling tropical butterflyfishes, the Old Wife is easily recognised by its tall "spikey" fins, pointed snout, and black and white banded pattern. It is common and abundant in rocky estuaries and on coastal reefs in southern Australia, often forming large midwater schools under jetties and piers. Small juveniles shelter in seagrass beds in protected bays and estuaries. The Old Wife should be handled with care as the fin spines are reportedly venomous.


Southern Australia.


Widely distributed in rocky and grassy areas and around piers in shallow coastal waters.

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