© Johan Boshoff


Tilefish (Malacanthidae)


Tilefish measure 18 cm on average, but can be as long as 125 cm.


Tilefish have cigar-shaped bodies which narrow towards the end, and small, round heads. Their tail fins are shortened and forked in certain species, their dorsal fin is continuous and their anal fin has two spines. They also have spines on their gills, or operculum. They vary in colour, but shades of yellow, brown and grey are predominant.

General Info

Tilefish belong to the Malacanthidae family which comprises of five genera and 42 species. They can be found in unaccompanied or in small groups on coral rubble, and live in sand and burrows which they make. With their very sharp eyesight and camouflaging, they can easily avoid their predators. They are pelagic spawners.


Tilefish feed on zooplankton, worms, invertebrates and small crustaceans.


They can be found in all temperate and tropical oceans across the world.

Common species

Red-stripe tilefish - Hoplolatilus marcosi
Sand tilefish - Malacanthus latovittatus
Stripetail tilefish - Malacanthus brevirostris

© Johan Boshoff