Common Weedfish

Heteroclinus Perspicillatus
Common Weedfish - Marinewise © 2024 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Heteroclinus Perspicillatus
Other names Robust Weedfish, Spotshoulder Weedfish
Size Up to 20 cm (7.87 in)
Weight Up to .15 kg (.33 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters, tidal pools & bays amongst rocky reefs, sandy areas with algae & weeds
Depth Range 1 - 10 m (33 ft)
Common Weedfish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • Common Weedfish are endemic to Australia and particularly common in the southern and eastern regions of Australia. This includes Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
  • Common Weedfish have a distinctive and elongated body shape with a flattened head. They have a mottled coloration, ranging from brown to olive, with darker blotches and irregular stripes that help them blend in with their surroundings.
  • They are opportunistic feeders, primarily consuming small invertebrates such as crustaceans, molluscs, worms, and small fish. They use their protractile mouth to capture prey items and have been observed displaying unique hunting behaviours, such as “standing” on their pectoral fins to reach prey in rock crevices.
  • The mottled coloration and markings of Common Weedfish allow them to blend seamlessly with their environment, providing effective camouflage against potential predators. They can rapidly change their coloration to match their surroundings, further enhancing their ability to remain hidden.
  • Common Weedfish are generally solitary creatures but can sometimes be found in small groups, especially during the breeding season. They establish small territories, defending their space from intruders, and are known to engage in courtship displays to attract mates.
  • They possess a unique pelvic fin structure called a “clasper.” This modified fin is used during mating to transfer sperm to the female. Males have longer claspers compared to females, allowing for easier identification of the sexes.
  • Common Weedfish have a remarkable ability to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, including variations in temperature, salinity, and oxygen levels. This adaptability allows them to thrive in different coastal habitats, from rocky shores to estuaries.
  • They are oviparous, meaning they reproduce by laying eggs. They typically breed during the warmer months, from late spring to early autumn (October to April) in Australia.
  • Their average lifespan is between 3 – 5 years depending on environmental conditions.
Species Interaction

Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

Common Weedfish are occasionally kept in home aquariums. They are hardy and adaptable, but it’s important to provide them with suitable hiding places and a varied diet to ensure their well-being. In the wild they can be a fascinating species to watch in their environment for snorkelers and divers. Their camouflage and colour-changing abilities are interesting to observe.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Clinidae

Genus: Heteroclinus

Species: Heteroclinus Perspicillatus

Conservation Status

The Common Weedfish is not listed as a threatened species in Australia. It is considered to have a stable population and is not currently subject to any specific conservation measures or protections.

Common Weedfish
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Easy to moderate

Temperament: Peaceful

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: Yes

Minimum Tank Size: 60 gallons

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Intermediate

Temperament: Peaceful

Location: Inner Reef, Lagoon, Seagrass Beds

Danger: None