Animal Species:Banded Morwong, Cheilodactylus spectabilis (Hutton, 1872)

The species name comes from the Latin word spectabilis, which means notable or showy. This name presumably refers to the striking banded pattern of the species.

Lateral view of a Banded Morwong

Lateral view of a Banded Morwong
Photographer: Erik Schlögl © Erik Schlögl

Standard Common Name

Banded Morwong


The Banded Morwong can be recognised by its distinctive pattern of seven or eight broad dark coloured bands. Many species of Morwongs (family Cheilodactylidae) are known to have distinctly elongated pectoral fin rays. The pectoral rays of the Banded Morwong however are only slightly elongated.

Size range

It grows to a maximum length of about 1 m.


The species is most abundant in Tasmania and New Zealand. It is not often seen in south eastern mainland Australia so the photographer was surprised to see it in 8 m of water at Shark Point, Sydney, New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Cheilodactylus spectabilis

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Banded Morwong specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?


The Banded Morwong lives in marine waters down to a depth of 50 m.



What does this mean?


  1. Brown, R.W. 1956. Composition of Scientific Words. R. W. Brown. Pp. 882.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. Crawford House Press. Pp. 437.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. in Gomon, M.F, J.C.M. Glover & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.

Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fish, ichthyology, Banded Morwong, Cheilodactylus spectabilis, Cheilodactylidae, red, pink, orange, white, 'normal fish', 30 cm - 1 m, stripes or bands, marine, adult,


Mark McGrouther - 2.03 PM, 08 March 2012

Hi parrotfish67,  Thank you for your comment.  I appreciate your input.  Interesting to hear that the species was caught commercially at Mallacoota.  Thanks also for reporting Red Morwong all the way to Lakes Enterance.  That matches with the 'official' distribution for the species.

parrotfish67 - 9.03 AM, 07 March 2012
i commercially fish for banded mowong out of mallacoota vic they are are abundant on the reefs here and we do get red mowong as well all the way to lakes entrance
Mark McGrouther - 3.06 PM, 26 June 2009
Thank you for your comment Sascha, The database records many specimen of Red Morwong from NSW and only one from Victoria. Officially the species occurs south to Malacoota, Vic, but is rare in the region. There are specimens of Banded Morwong from both NSW and Victoria. Your observations sound good to me.
Sascha Schulz - 3.06 PM, 26 June 2009
Just a note on the abundance of C. spectabilis based on my experience. North of Batemans Bay the species may well be considered rare, however its abundance increases as you go south, and once you reach the port of Eden near the NSW/VIC border, it is the most common morwong species encountered in shallow water (<20m). This coincides with a decrease in Red Morwong (C. fuscus) abundance, the species being virtually absent south of Eden.

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