Magpie perch

The Magpie perch or Magpie morwong, Cheilodactylus nigripes, is a morwong of the genus Cheilodactylus, found off southern Australia, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, and northern New Zealand including the Kermadec Islands, from shallow depths to 820.21 ft (250 m), on rocky reef and coastal areas. Its length is between 11.81 and 19.69 in (30 and 50 cm).

The Magpie perch is similar to the Painted moki in size and shape but has a high crest-like front portion on the dorsal fin and is slightly smaller.

Coloring is distinctive. There are two broad vertical black bars that continue on to the fins, set on a dark silver background. Young specimens have reddish markings on the tail and caudal peduncle.

While fairly common in Australia the magpie perch is not common in New Zealand, only being seen around the north of the country.

Illustration by Dr Tony Ayling