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Red Indian Fish

 
Introduction:
Red or orange colouration, distinctive body shape, long dorsal fin, well camoflagued.
Identification:
Compressed body and a long-based dorsal fin. Individuals are often scarlet, brick red or orange. Occasionally they may be pale or have black and/or white spots. It lacks pelvic fins and has no scales.  The dorsal fin stretches the entire length of the body, and comprises an elevated spiny section joined with a lower, soft-rayed section. This is in turn joined to the caudal fin. Body size up to 35 cm.
Max. Size: 35 cm.
Distribution: Eastern and western Australia
Habitat: Sponge beds, rocky reefs and estuaries in 10 m to 80 m depth.
Biology:
It is known to periodically shed its skin in one complete piece, ridding the fish of the encrusting algae and bryozoans that grow on the skin. Its colouration and distinctive shape result in it being well camouflaged among sponges.  Its common name comes from the long dorsal fin which resembles the popular image of a native North American chief's headdress. Unlike most fishes, it does not swim off when discovered, but stays motionless.  It has an unusual swimming 'style', if released above the bottom it will twist, fall and spin back to its position on the sponge, resembling a large dead leaf sinking through the water. Eats mainly shrimps and other crustaceans.
Other Common Names: Red Foreheadfish, Red Indianfish
Family: Pataecidae
Genus: Pataecus
Species: fronto