Sea Chubs


Kyphosidae, drummers or sea chubs are coastal reef fishes, found in the warm temperate seas of Australia. There are over 40 species, of which only a limited number will be found in the region. Their diet normally consists of encrusting invertebrate communities and algae but some species, such as the blue maomao and the sweep feed mainly on plankton. Their bodies are thickly built and oval shaped with one dorsal fin. Their body and median fins are covered in small, weakly ctenoid scales (resembling the teeth of a comb).

The southern silver drummer (Kyphosus sydneyanus) has grey body, a dark spot below the pectoral fin base and a large caudal (tail) fin. It grows to 75cm in length and can be found on coastal rocky reefs, in harbours and bays. It is recorded in cool temperate marine waters from southern Queensland, around the south of the country to the southern coast of Western Australia.

The blue maomao (Scorpis violacea) is schooling fish that stays close to the shore. It feeds on plankton and sometimes nibbles lush seaweeds when plankton is in short supply. The body is deep blue above and pale white underneath. They can grow up to 40cm.

The Australian mado (Atypichthys strigatus) has a silver body with dark brown to black stripes, and yellow fins. It has large eyes, a small mouth and a forked tail. It grows to 25cm in length and is found on coastal and estuarine reefs from southern Queensland to eastern Tasmania. Other species that you may encounter are listed below, with their maximum adult size:

  • Grey Knifefish Bathystethus cultratus 30cm
  • Black Drummer Girella elevata 62cm
  • Luderick Girella tricuspidata 71cm
  • Blue Seachub Kyphosus cinerascens 50cm
  • Silver Sweep Scorpis lineolata 30cm