Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory



Alepocephalidae: <I>Leptochilichthys</I>

Alepocephalidae: Leptochilichthys


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CAAB: 37114000


Baldfishes, Slickheads

Compiler and date details

24 Mar 2016 - Douglass F. Hoese, Dianne J. Bray, John R. Paxton, Jennifer E. Gates & Matthew M. Lockett

15 March 2015 - Dianne J. Bray, Douglass F. Hoese, John R. Paxton & Jennifer E. Gates

20 December 2006 - Douglass F. Hoese, Dianne J. Bray, John R. Paxton & Jennifer E. Gates


The Alepocephalidae currently comprises 99 species in about 20 genera worldwide (Eschmeyer, 2014; Eschmeyer & Fong 2014). In Australia, 38 described species in 16 genera are known. Sazonov & Williams (2001) included the Bathyprionidae, Leptochilichthyidae and Bathylaconidae within Alepocephalidae. Although Wiley & Johnson (2010) recognised the Bathylaconidae as a separate family, authors of recent molecular studies (Lavoué et al. 2008; Poulsen et al. 2009) include the group in the Alepocephalidae. We follow Wiley & Johnson (2010) here.

Slickheads are primarily benthopelagic on continental slopes and abyssal plains, although juveniles may be meso- or bathypelagic. Recorded food items include ctenophores, crustaceans, echinoderms, polychaetes, tunicates, sponges, cephalopods and fishes. They are often slender fishes with short-based dorsal and anal fins usually opposite and positioned far back on the body; teeth are small and jaws are overlapped by some of the circumorbital bones. A few genera have photophores and some lack scales. Maximum size for the family is 1 m. Ambrose (1996) discussed early life history.

Alepocephalids were reviewed, in part, by Parr (1951), who provided a key to genera, and more recently by Sazonov & Ivanov (1980), who described Indian Ocean species. Markle (1980) reviewed Asquamiceps, and more than 30 species from the eastern Atlantic were figured and briefly described by Markle & Quéro (1984). Markle & Krefft (1985) reviewed Bajacalifornia, Markle & Sazonov (1996) reviewed Aulastomatomorpha, and Sazonov & Markle (1999) presented a key to many tropical alepocephalids. Sazonov & Williams (2001) presented a key to genera, and reviewed 12 of the 20 alepocephalid genera and 19 species found in Australian waters. Williams & Sazonov (2008) treated species occurring off Australia's southern coast. Australian species of Conocara were reviewed by Sazonov et al. (2009). Some species found in the southern Tasman Sea are treated in Flynn & Pogonoski (2012). Microphotolepis schmidti has been recorded from the southeast coast of Java (Gloerfelt-Tarp & Kailola 1985 as M. multipunctata) and is likely to occur in Australian waters. Similarly, Conocara werneri is recorded from New Zealand and the eastern Indian Ocean and is expected to be present in Australian waters (Sazonov et al. (2009). Alepocephalus productus has been recorded from New Zealand and the Norfolk Ridge (Williams & Stewart 2015), but there are no confirmed records from Australia. A number of undescribed species may also occur in Australian waters.


General References

Ambrose, D.A. 1996. Alepocephalidae: slickheads,. pp. 224-233 in Moser, H.G. The early stages of fishes in the California Current region. Fisheries Investigations Atlas No. 33 Lawrence, Kansas : California Cooperative Oceanic Allen Press, Inc. 1505 pp.

Eschmeyer, W.N. 2014. Catalog of Fishes. Online version updated 19 May 2014.

Eschmeyer, W.N. & Fong, J.D. 2012. Species of Fishes by family/subfamily. Catalog of Fishes. Online version updated 15 March 2012.

Flynn, A.J. & Pogonoski, J.J. 2012. Guide to Mesopelagic Fishes of the Southern Tasman Sea. Hobart, Australia : CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research i-v + 221 pp.

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp. [305]

Lavoué, S., Miya, M., Poulsen, J.Y. Møller, P.R. & Nishida, M. 2008. Monophyly, phylogenetic position and inter-familial relationships of the Alepocephaliformes (Teleostei) based on whole mitogenome sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 47: 1111–1121

Markle, D. F. 1980. A new species and review of the deep-sea fish genus Asquamiceps (Salmoniformes, Alepocephalidae). Bulletin of Marine Science 30(1): 45-53

Markle, D.F. & Krefft, G. 1985. A new species and review of Bajacalifornia (Pisces: Alepocephalidae) with comments on the hook jaw of Narcetes stomias. Copeia 1985(2): 345-356

Markle, D.F. & Quéro, J.-C. 1984. Family Alepocephalidae. pp. 228-253 33 figs in Whitehead, P.J.P. et al. (eds). Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Paris : UNESCO Vol. 1 510 pp. figs.

Markle, D.F. & Sazonov, Y.I. 1996. Review of the rare, deep-sea genus, Aulastomatomorpha (Teleostei: Salmoniformes), with a discussion of relationships. Copeia 1996(2): 497-500

Parr, A.E. 1951. Preliminary revision of the Alepocephalidae, with the introduction of a new family, Searsidae. American Museum Novitates 1531: 1-21

Poulsen, J.Y., Møller, P.D.R., Lavoué, S., Knudsen, S.W., Nishida, M. & Miya, M. 2009. Higher and lower-level relationships of the deep-sea fish order Alepocephaliformes (Teleostei: Otocephala) inferred from whole mitogenome sequences. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 98: 923–936

Sazonov, Y.I., Williams, A. & Kobyliansky, S.G. 2009. Review of fish of the fish genus Conocara (Alepocephalidae) from the continental slope of Australia and description of a new species C. paxtoni sp. nova. Journal of Ichthyology 49(10): 852-860

Sazonov, Y.I. & Ivanov, A.N. 1980. Slickheads (Alepocephalidae and Leptochilichthyidae) from thalassobathyal zone of the Indian Ocean. Trudy Instituta Okeanologii. Akademiya Nauk SSSR. Moskva 110: 7-104 figs 1-25 [in Russian]

Sazonov, Y.I. & Markle, D.F. 1999. Family Alepocephalidae. pp. 1888-1893 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 pp. 1397-2068.

Sazonov, Y.I. & Williams, A. 2001. A review of the alepocephalid fishes (Argentiniformes, Alepocephalidae) from the continental slope of Australia: Part I. Journal of Ichthyology 41(suppl. 1): 1-36

Wiley, E.O. & Johnson, G.D. 2010. A teleost classification based on monophyletic groups. pp. 123-182 in Nelson, J.S., Schultze, H.-P. & Wilson, M.V.H. Origin and Phylogenetic Interrelationships of Teleosts. München, Germany : Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil 480 pp.

Williams, A. & Sazonov, Y.I. 2008. Family Alepocephalidae and Platytroctidae. pp. 201-210 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Williams, A. & Stewart, A.L. 2015. Family Alepocephalidae. pp. 354-376 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 2 pp. 1-576.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
06-Jun-2016 ARGENTINIFORMES 21-May-2015 MODIFIED Dr Dianne Bray (NMV) Dr Doug Hoese (AM) Dr Matthew Lockett (AM)
06-Jun-2016 13-Jun-2012 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)