SA Conservation Concern.

Marine species about which scientists require more informat ion for future management

Harlequin fish
Othos dentex


Harlequin fish can grow to around 75 cm in length and can weigh well over 3 kg (one recorded specimen weighed in at 5.94 kg)


The harlequin fish is found only in South Australian and temperate Western Australian waters.

The harlequin fish is a magnificent reef fish, closely-related and similar in appearance to the coral trout. Harlequin fish can be red, orange, pink, green or brown in colour, but all have bright blue spots on the head and upper sides and feature a large red blotch on the side, which is covered by the pectoral fin. They are an ambush predator that feeds on various small fish.


Harlequin fish inhabit moderately exposed coastal rocky reefs and reef drop-offs to around 50 m deep. Adults of the species are site-attached, permanently residing in the same area of reef.

Protection Status.



Harlequin fish are of conservation concern because they are long-lived, site-attached and vulnerable to localised depletion.


We need photos of both sides of the head of harlequin fish for an ongoing research project. Send your photos, with the location, to Any photos submitted will remain the property of the photographer and will be acknowledged in any reports or presentations that are generated as part of the project.

Showing multiple colours of the harlequin fish
Photo by Simon Bryars


Conservation Council of South Australia

Leve1/157 Franklin St

Adelaide SA 5000

phone (08) 82235155

fax (08) 82324782


Reef Watch Victoria


Reef Watch South Australia



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