Short Sunfish

Mola alexandrini
Short Sunfish - Marinewise © 2024 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Mola alexandrini
Other names Bumphead Sunfish, Ramsay's Ocean Sunfish, Short Ocean Sunfish, Southern Ocean Sunfish, Southern Sunfish
Size Up to 3.3 m (10.82 ft)
Weight Up to 2000 kg (4409 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Oceanic, both pelagic and mesopelagic
Depth Range 0 - 200 m (656 ft)
Bump-head Sunfish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Short Sunfish also commonly know as the Bump Head Sunfish is a migratory fish. Mostly solitary, they are known to travel in pairs or small groups.
  • They have a distinct appearance with a large, flat, disc-shaped body that is taller than it is long, giving it a somewhat truncated appearance. The body of the fish is covered in thick, tough skin with small, sharp spines. The skin is usually a dark grey or brown colour with a mottled pattern, and it may have lighter spots or patches on its surface.
  • Sunfish don’t have tails and use their dorsal and anal fins to swim. Moving these fins back and forth in the same direction.
  • Short Sunfish have a varied diet which can include; jellyfish, plankton, small fish, crustaceans & molluscs. They are also know to eat marine plants, including kelp and seaweed.
  • Estimates of lifespan are unclear, but have been placed over 20 years. Studies indicate it takes at least 20 years for the fish to reach the length of 3 m (9.84 ft). In captivity they live to about 10 years.
  • These fish have a smaller mouth relative to their size and instead of teeth, have fused teeth that form a beak. Similar to that of parrot fish.
  • Short Sunfish are often spotted when they are on surface waters, basking in the sun to thermally recharge themselves prior to diving down into colder waters. Sunbaking helps them regulate their body temperature.
  • There is limited information available on their breeding habits. However, it is believed that, like other species of sunfish, they are an oviparous fish that releases its eggs into the open water column where they are fertilised by the male.
  • The main predators of Short Sunfish include sharks and orca.
Species Interaction

Snorkelling & Diving

The Short Sunfish, also known as the Bumphead Sunfish are a highly popular fish for marine life enthusiast. Just as whale watching is popular throughout the world, so are Sunfish tours. Whilst finding these fish can be somewhat unpredictable, there are certain parts of the world where spotting the migratory fish is becoming more common.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Tetraodontiformes

Family: Molidae

Genus: Mola

Species: Mola alexandrini

Conservation Status

Short Sunfish are not evaluated on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) site. However, as its not a targeted commercial or recreational fishing species, their are limited concerns over their population.

Fish Taste Quality

Short Sunfish are not a targeted fish species for consumption in Australia.

Taste Rating: 0/5

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Location: Deepsea, Open Ocean

Danger: None

Elusive / Overlooked Species

Finding: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Location: Deepsea, Offshore

Danger: None