Red Indianfish (Pataecus fronto)

Family: Pataecidae

"Hail to the chief! It's not very difficult to see how the Red Indianfish obtained its name; the tall head is similar in appearance to that of an Indian."

The Red Indianfish (Pataecus fronto) is a stunning fish that is sought after by divers along the east and west coast of Australia. It is known to occur from Shark Bay in Western Australia around to South Australia and it can be found on the east coast from Moreton Bay in Queensland to Bateman's Bay in southern New South Wales. This species is endemic to Australia meaning that it is only known to occur in these waters. Some good dive sites to regularly see this illusive fish is the Docks in Jervis Bay and Bare Island in Sydney.

This Red Indianfish belongs to the family Pataecidae that is collectively known as the 'Prowfishes'. There are three species known in this family; the Warty Prowfish, Aetapcus maculatus, the Whiskered Prowfish, Neopataecus waterhousii and of course the Red Indianfish. All three species are only known to occur in Australian waters. The Red Indianfish is also related to the Scorpionfishes in the family Scorpaenidae.

The colouration of this species can vary from red to a dull brown or orange. The Red Indianfish can be found living in amongst sponge gardens from depths of 5 to 30 metres. It can be very difficult to find as it is a master of camouflage; blending in very well in sponge gardens. Divers will often swim over this species without even realising its there. A good time to find the Red Indianfish is on night dives as they appear to be more active and you can often find their 'walking' trail in the sand. It grows to a maximum length of approximately 25cm.

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