Species Emmelichthys nitidus

Common names: Redbait (pearl fish, redbait fish) Previous nomenclature: Erythrichthys nitidus


Description based on otoliths of four specimens of 250-325 mm FL. Otolith catalogue reference DMF59, SD3 and 30.31P4-3. Catch locality Merimbula, Victoria, 120 m depth; Gabo Island, Victoria, 38 m depth; and southern Tasmania, respectively. ID by DMF, SD and RG respectively.

Otolith description

Otolith small/medium, ovate. Dorsal margin acutely dentate; ventral margin serrate; posterior margin lobed. Distal surface flat; proximal surface convex. Sulcus groove heterosulcoid; opening ostial though may appear ostio-caudal. Ostium largely restricted to rostrum. Colliculum heteromorph. Collum absent. Crista superior ridge-like; crista inferior well developed along cauda and neck. Rostrum elongate, broad and pointed. Antirostrum small and sharply rounded. Excisura wide; notch shallow; angle acute. Dorsal area groove present as a broad depression. Ventral area raised, narrow groove present.


FL = 183.277 OW 0114 mm n = 7; Std Err Est = 0.032; R = 0.615; P<0.142 Otolith weight range = 21.0-34.0 mg (CMAR)

Fish length range = 104-305 mm FL (Gales and Pemberton 1994)

Fish length range = 86-204 mm FL (R. Kirkwood, pers. com. Phillip Is. Nature Park)

Mass = 3.499 x 10-6 FL 323 g n = 107; Std Err Est = 0.133; R = 0.975; P<0.001; Fish length range = 148-300 mm FL (CMAR)

Distribution and ecology

South-eastern Australia from New South Wales to South Australia, and Tasmania; also New Zealand, South Africa and Chile (Gomon et al. 1994), Amsterdam and Saint Paul Islands (Last et al. 1983); 20-100 m depth; exhibits schooling behaviour in midwater over the continental shelf (Last et al. 1983, May and Maxwell 1986); reaches 360 mm in length.

Predator-prey information

Known prey of southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) (Young et al. 1996), Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) (Gales and Pemberton 1994, Hume et al. 2004), New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsterii) (Lake 1997), shy albatross (Thalassarche cauta) (Hedd et al. 2001) and Australasian gannet (Morus serrator) (Brothers et al. 1993).

Otolith of Emmelichthys nitidus from a fish of 250 mm FL
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