Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory



<I>Cantherines pardalis</I>

Cantherines pardalis

<I>Meuschenia scaber</I>

Meuschenia scaber

<I>Monacanthus chinensis</I>

Monacanthus chinensis


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CAAB: 37465000


Filefishes, Leatherjackets

Compiler and date details

1 December 2013 - Gerald R. Allen, Douglass F. Hoese, Connie J. Allen, Norbert J. Cross & Matthew M. Lockett


Members of the Monacanthidae, the leatherjackets, occur worldwide in tropical and warm temperate seas, with the highest concentration of species found in Australian waters. The family contains 102 species belonging to 32 genera (Nelson 2006) and is represented in the Australian fauna by 60 species in 23 genera. Generic synonymies are given here only for genera restricted to the Australia and New Zealand region.

Leatherjackets (also known as filefishes in some countries) inhabit rocky and coral reefs, seaweed beds and seagrass meadows, and also form part of the soft bottom community of the continental shelf. They tend to be secretive, blending in well with their surroundings. Many species can change colour, resulting in effective camouflage. They feed on a variety of items including algae, seagrasses and benthic invertebrates. The head is typically angular with a small mouth and the skin has a coarse texture. They are similar to triggerfishes (Balistidae), but are generally more laterally compressed, have a more pointed snout, a longer first dorsal spine and lack a third dorsal spine. The maximum size is about 75 cm, but most species are considerably smaller. The temperate species are important food fishes in Australia and Japan.

Monacanthids have not been reviewed comprehensively, but Hutchins (1988) provided morphological, ecological, and distributional data for all world species. Generic revisions include those of Hutchins (1986) — Pervagor, Hutchins & Swainston (1985) — Brachaluteres, and Hutchins (1997) — Paramonacanthus. Hutchins (1977) listed the then known Australian species and their synonyms, but several changes in nomenclature have since been implemented. Temperate species were reviewed by Hutchins (1994, 2008) and Hutchins (2001) dealt with many of the species known from tropical regions of Australia. Relationships of the family are treated by Tyler (1980), Winterbottom (1974), Santini & Tyler (2003) and Santini et al. (2013).

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of J.B. Hutchins in preparing this section.


General References

Hutchins, J.B. 1977. Descriptions of three new genera and eight new species of monacanthid fishes from Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 5(1): 3-58 figs 1-13

Hutchins, J.B. 1986. Review of the monacanthid fish genus Pervagor, with descriptions of two new species. Indo-Pacific Fishes 12: 1-35 11 figs 2 pls

Hutchins, J.B. 1988. The comparative morphology and phylogeny of the monacanthid fishes. Unpublished PhD thesis, Murdoch University, Western Australia.

Hutchins, J.B. 1994. Family Monacanthidae. pp. 866-891 figs 767-787 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Hutchins, J.B. 1997. Review of the monacanthid fish genus Paramonacanthus, with descriptions of three new species. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 54: 1-57 figs 1-32

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Monacanthidae. pp. 3929-3947 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

Hutchins, J.B. 2008. Family Monacanthidae. pp. 822-841 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1985. Revision of the monacanthid fish genus Brachaluteres. Records of the Western Australian Museum 12(1): 57-78

McCulloch, A.R. 1918. Four Queensland fishes. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 6: 91-96 figs 27-30 [pl. 30]

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

Santini, F., Sorenson, L., Marcroft, T., Dornburg, A. & Alfaro, M.E. 2013. A multilocus molecular phylogeny of boxfishes (Aracanidae, Ostraciidae; Tetraodontiformes). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66: 153-160

Santini, F. & Tyler, J.C. 2003. A phylogeny of the families of fossil and extant tetraodontiform fishes (Acanthomorpha, Tetraodontiformes), Upper Cretaceous to Recent. Journal of the Linnean Society of London, Zoology 139: 565-617

Tyler, J.C. 1980. Osteology, phylogeny, and higher classification of the fishes of the order Plectognathi (Tetraodontiformes). National Marine Fisheries Service (U.S.). Technical Report 434: 1-422 figs 1-326

Winterbottom, R. 1974. The familial phylogeny of the Tetraodontiformes (Acanthopterygii : Pisces) as evidenced by their comparative myology. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 155: 1-102 figs 1-185


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)
12-Feb-2010 (import)