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Butterfly Gurnard – Lepidotrigla vanessa

Butterfly Gurnard are often confused with Sharp Beaked Gurnard and Red Gurnard (see entries below...


Butterfly Gurnard are often confused with Sharp Beaked Gurnard and Red Gurnard (see entries below). The identifying differences are the colours and shape of the pectoral fins and the two distinctive spines on the snout of the Sharp Beaked Gurnard. The three lower rays of the pectoral fins are thickened and free from the rest of the fin, and used for walking over the bottom probing for food.


Butterfly Gurnard have a large bony head and a bony rostrum on the snout with a very small median notch with tiny spines. They are sandy with reddish bands and blotches and often turn red on capture. The greenish pectoral fins are round with bright blue spots and margins, and a roundish black blotch with a bright blue margin and scattered blue spots inside.

Butterfly Gurnard have been measured at 41cms in length.

They are considered good eating and need to be skinned but are most often too small to be worth the effort. They are valued for aquariums.

Butterfly Gurnard are found from Rottnest Island Western Australia, south around to northern Victoria, offshore in sand and silt habitats, usually in depths of 20 – 100 metres.

Red Gurnard are slender fish with a large bony head and blunt snout. They are sandy coloured with irregular red vertical bands and fan-like pectoral fins which have a green base colour with bright blue spots and a bright blue top edge margin. There is a large black blotch with scattered white spots near the base. The pectoral fins are large and more elongated than round. The first three rays of the pectoral fin are free and act as fingers for detection of food.

Red Gurnard grow to 2kgs and 50cms.

They are well regarded table fish.

Red Gurnard are found from Shark Bay Western Australia, south around southern waters then north to southern Great Barrier Reef Queensland, including Tasmania. They are usually found on soft bottoms in offshore waters in depths of 2 – 200 metres.



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