Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory



<I>Protolateralis stercorarius</I> holotype

Protolateralis stercorarius holotype


Regional Maps

External Links

CAAB: 37341000


Pony Fishes, Ponyfishes, Slipmouths

Compiler and date details

27 June 2018 - Douglass F. Hoese, Matthew M. Lockett & Dianne J. Bray

28 August 2014 - Douglass F. Hoese, Dianne J. Bray & Matthew M. Lockett

11 February 2012 - Douglass F. Hoese, Dianne J. Bray & Matthew M. Lockett

December 2006 - Douglass F. Hoese & Dianne J. Bray


Leiognathids are found only in the waters of the Indo-west to the central Pacific region. Currently, 10 genera and approximately 48 species are recognised (Chakrabarty et al. 2010; Baldwin & Sparks 2011; Sparks & Chakrabarty 2015). Previously five genera were recognised (Nelson 2006). Molecular studies by Sparks & Dunlap (2004) and Ikejima et al. (2004) suggested that Leiognathus, as recognised, was paraphyletic. Subsequently the genus has been split into several genera (Chakrabarty & Sparks 2007, 2008; Kimiura et al. 2008). Nine genera and 21 species are known from Australia.

Ponyfishes are found over soft bottoms in coastal marine and estuarine environments, often extending onto the continental shelf to depths of around 150 m. They are nocturnal, swimming in midwater at night, and demersal during the day. Leiognathids are distinctive in having a silvery body which is markedly compressed. They are also luminescent, with a colony of luminous bacteria housed in a ring-like organ around the esophagus. Maximum length is 28 cm.

The family was first reviewed by James (1975). Jones (1985) revised the Australian species and noted frequent misidentifications in the earlier literature from Australia. Many of the Australian species are treated in Woodland et al. (2001). Mochizuki & Hayashi (1989) revised Secutor; they argued that the species commonly referred to as S. ruconius is actually S. interruptus, and that Chanda ruconius Hamilton, 1828 is actually a species of Leiognathus. Woodland et al. (2001), however, used the name Secutor rugonius as a senior synonym of S. interruptus. Kottelat (2013) regarded the name Secutor as a junior synonym of Leiognathus and used the name Deveximentum for the genus. The genus is clearly in need of review (Baldwin & Sparks 2011). Species of Gazza are treated by Yamashita et al. (1998) and Kimura et al. (2000). There are a number of problems of nomenclature that affect the appropriate names for some species and genera (see discussion in Kottelat 2013).

The osteology of the family was described by James (1985a), James (1985b) and Sparks & Chakrabarty (2015) discussed relationships within the family. Gill & Michalski (2020) detailed additional osteological characters from six of the ten genera currently recognised that support monophyly of the family.


General References

Baldwin, Z.H. & Sparks, J.S. 2011. A new species of Secutor (Teleostei: Leiognathidae) from the western Indian Ocean. Zootaxa 2998: 39-47

Chakrabarty, P., Sparks, J.S. & Ho., H.-C. 2010. Taxonomic review of the ponyfishes (Perciformes: Leiognathidae) of Taiwan. Marine Biodiversity 40: 107-121

Chakrabarty, P. & Sparks, J.S. 2007. Phylogeny and taxonomic revision of Nuchequula Whitley, 1932 (Teleostei: Leiognathidae), with the description of a new species. American Museum Novitates 3588: 1-25

Chakrabarty, P. & Sparks, J.S. 2008. Diagnoses for Leiognathus Lacepède, 1802, Equula Cuvier, 1815, Equulites Fowler, 1904, Eubleekeria Fowler, 1904, and a new ponyfish genus (Teleostei: Leiognathidae). American Museum Novitates 3623: 1-11

Gill, A.C. & Michalski, S. 2020. Osteological evidence for monophyly of the Leiognathidae (Teleostei: Acanthomorpha: Acanthuriformes). Zootaxa 4732(3): 409-421

Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & Allen, G.R. 2006. Fishes. In, Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 35. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3, 2178 pp. [1176]

Ikejima, K., Ishiguro, N.B., Wada, M., Kita-Tsukamoto, K. & Nishida, M. 2004. Molecular phylogeny and possible scenario of ponyfish (Perciformes: Leiognathidae) evolution. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 31(3): 904-909

James, P.S.B.R. 1975. A systematic review of the fishes of the family Leiognathidae. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India 17(1): 138-172 fig. 1 pls 1-3

James, P.S.B.R. 1985a. Comparative osteology of the fishes of the family Leiognathidae. Pt 1: Osteology. Indian Journal of Fisheries 32(3): 309-357

James, P.S.B.R. 1985b. Comparative osteology of the fishes of the family Leiognathidae. Pt 2: Relationships among the genera and the species. Indian Journal of Fisheries 32(4): 395-416

Jones, G. 1985. Revision of the Australian species of the fish family Leiognathidae. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 36: 559-613 figs 1-19

Kimura, S., Kimura, R. & Ikejima, K. 2008. Revision of the genus Nuchequula with descriptions of three new species (Perciformes: Leiognathidae). Ichthyological Research 55: 22-42

Kimura, S., Yamashita, T. & Iwatsuki, Y. 2000. A new species, Gazza rhombea, from the Indo-West Pacific, with a redescription of G. achlamys Jordan & Starks, 1917 (Perciformes: Leiognathidae). Ichthyological Research 47(1): 1-12 figs 1-9

Kottelat, M. 2013. The fishes of the inland waters of southeast Asia: a catalogue and core bibliography of the fishes known to occur in freshwaters, mangroves and estuaries. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 27: 1-663

Mochizuki, K. & Hayashi, M. 1989. Revision of the leiognathid fishes of the genus Secutor, with two new species. Science Reports of the Yokosuka City Museum 37: 83-95 figs 1-7

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp.

Sparks, J.S. & Chakrabarty, P. 2015. Description of a new genus of ponyfishes (Teleostei: Leiognathidae), with a review of the current generic-level composition of the family. Zootaxa 3947(2): 181–190

Sparks, J.S. & Dunlap, P.V. 2004. A clade of non-sexually dimorphic ponyfishes (Teleostei, Perciformes, Leiognathidae) : phylogeny, taxonomy, and description of a new species. American Museum Novitates 3459: 1-21

Woodland, D.J., Premcharoen, S. & Cabanban, A.S. 2001. Leiognathidae. pp. 2792-2823 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. 5 2791-3379 pp.

Yamashita, T., Kimura, S. & Iwatsuki, Y. 1998. Validity of the leiognathid fish, Gazza dentex (Valenciennes, 1835), with designation of a lectotype, and redescription of G. minuta Bloch, 1795. Ichthyological Research 45(3): 271-280


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)
18-Aug-2021 LEIOGNATHIDAE 23-Nov-2022 MODIFIED Dr Doug Hoese
14-Dec-2012 14-Dec-2012 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)