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CAAB: 37229000


Pearl Fish, Pearl-oyster Fish, Pearlfishes

Compiler and date details

Douglass F. Hoese, John R. Paxton, Jennifer E. Gates & Dianne J. Bray


Worldwide the Carapidae comprise two subfamilies, seven genera, about 31 described species and several undescribed species. Fifteen described species in six genera have been collected from Australian waters, and at least one undescribed species is known from Queensland.

Members of four of the genera shelter in invertebrates, such as sea cucumbers. Some are parasitic, eating the internal organs of their host. The monotypic subfamily Pyramodontinae includes deepwater species found in the waters of the outer shelf and slope. Carapids have separate planktonic and benthic larval stages. Maximum size for the family is at least 36 cm.

The pearlfishes were reviewed by Arnold (1956). Subsequent descriptions of new species can be found in Cohen & Nielsen (1978) and Williams (1984a). Williams (1984b) treated relationships of four of the genera, and Markle & Olney (1990) discussed relationships. Life history information is provided by Trott (1970) and Robertson (1975).

The pearlfishes are currently under study by D.F. Markle of OSUC and J. Olney of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, USA. We thank D.F. Markle for his help with this family account.


General References

Arnold, D.C. 1956. A systematic revision of the fishes of the teleost family Carapidae (Percomorphi, Blennioidea), with descriptions of two new species. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Historical Series 4(6): 245-307 figs 1-20

Cohen, D.M. & Nielsen, J.G. 1978. Guide to the identification of genera of the fish order Ophidiiformes with a tentative classification of the order. National Marine Fisheries Service (U.S.). Technical Report 417: 1-72 figs 1-103

Markle, D.F. & Olney, J.E. 1990. Systematics of the pearlfishes (Pisces: Carapidae). Bulletin of Marine Science 47(2): 269-410

Robertson, D.A. 1975. Planktonic stages of the teleost family Carapidae in eastern New Zealand waters. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 9: 403-409 figs 1-2

Trott, L.B. 1970. Contributions to the biology of carapid fishes (Paracanthopterygii : Gadiformes). University of California Publications in Zoology 89: 1-41 figs 1-6 pls 1-16

Williams, J.T. 1984a. Synopsis and phylogenetic analysis of the pearlfish subfamily Carapinae (Pisces : Carapidae). Bulletin of Marine Science 34(3): 386-397 figs 1-3

Williams, J.T. 1984b. Studies of Echiodon (Pisces : Carapidae) with description of two new Indo-Pacific species. Copeia 1984(2): 410-422 figs 1-6


Common Name References

Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. [374] (Nielsen. J.G. 1999. Families Carapidae, Ophidiidae, Bythitidae, Aphionidae. pp. 1978-1985 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. [1978], FAO) (Pearlfishes)

Pollard, J. (ed.) 1980. G.P. Whitley's Handbook of Australian Fishes. North Sydney : Jack Pollard Publishing Pty Ltd 629 pp. [273] (Pearl Fish)

Whitley, G.P. 1948. A list of the fishes of Western Australia. Western Australia Fish Department. Fisheries Bulletin 2: 1-35 map [28] (Pearl-oyster Fish)


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)