Porae, Nemadactylus douglasii
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Cheilodactylidae

See text for species

Morwongs are perciform fishes comprising the family Cheilodactylidae. Most of the almost 30 species are found in temperate and subtropical oceans in the Southern Hemisphere, but three (Cheilodactylus quadricornis, C. zebra and C. zonatus) are restricted to northwest Pacific off Japan and China, and C. vittatus is restricted to Hawaii. The largest species grow up to 1.2 metres (3.9 ft), but most species only reach around half that length. They feed on small invertebrates on the ocean floor. Several species of morwong are commercially harvested as food fish, particularly in Australia.

Other names for members of the family include butterfish, fingerfin, jackassfish, and moki. Morwongs are also erroneously known as snappers.

Morwong is also used as a name for several unrelated fish found in Australian waters, such as the painted sweetlips, Diagramma pictum.


The below list follows traditional taxonomy, as used by FishBase and California Academy of Sciences' Catalog of Fishes.[1][2] This includes several problems: At a higher level, the traditional delimination of this family and Latridae is based on morphological differences, but the reliability of these differences has been questioned, and genetics do not support this treatment either, leading some to suggest that the majority should be in Latridae.[3][4] Based on this, the only species that should remain in the family Cheilodactylidae are the relatively small Cheilodactylus fasciatus and C. pixi from southern Africa.[3] This also means that the broader definition of the genus Cheilodactylus (as done in the below list) is polyphyletic.[3][5] One suggested solution has been to leave about half the species in Cheilodactylus and move the remaining half to Goniistius,[5] but this relatively simple proposal does not take the extreme divergence of C. fasciatus and C. pixi into account.[3] All other "Cheilodactylus" clearly do not belong with these two in Cheilodactylus and instead appear to belong in several different genera (only one of which is Goniistius), but how many and their exact delimination is not clear at present.[3]


Cheilodactylus vittatus is endemic to Hawaii. Populations in the southwest Pacific, formerly included in C. vittatus, are actually a separate species, C. francisi.[6]
Cheilodactylus zonatus in Izu, Japan
  • Genus Cheilodactylus
    • Painted moki, Cheilodactylus ephippium
    • Redfingers, Cheilodactylus fasciatus
    • Blacktip morwong, Cheilodactylus francisi
    • Red morwong, Cheilodactylus fuscus
    • Western crested morwong, Cheilodactylus gibbosus
    • Magpie perch or Magpie morwong, Cheilodactylus nigripes
    • Barred fingerfin, Cheilodactylus pixi
    • Plessis's morwong, Cheilodactylus plessisi
    • Cheilodactylus quadricornis
    • Cheilodactylus rubrolabiatus
    • Red moki, Cheilodactylus spectabilis
    • Peruvian morwong, Cheilodactylus variegatus
    • Crested morwong, Cheilodactylus vestitus
    • Hawaiian morwong, Cheilodactylus vittatus
    • Redlip morwong, Cheilodactylus zebra
    • Spottedtail morwong, Cheilodactylus zonatus
  • Genus Chirodactylus
    • Twotone fingerfin, Chirodactylus brachydactylus
    • Bank steenbras, Chirodactylus grandis
    • Natal fingerfin, Chirodactylus jessicalenorum
  • Genus Dactylophora
    • Dusky morwong, Dactylophora nigricans
  • Genus Nemadactylus
    • Nemadactylus bergi
    • Blue morwong or Porae, Nemadactylus douglasii
    • Nemadactylus gayi
    • Jackass morwong or Tarakihi, Nemadactylus macropterus
    • St. Paul's fingerfin, Nemadactylus monodactylus
    • Sea carp or Queen snapper, Nemadactylus valenciennesi
    • Nemadactylus vemae


  1. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2011). "Cheilodactylidae" in FishBase. September 2011 version.
  2. ^ Eschmeyer and Fricke, eds. (14 July 2011). Catalog of Fishes electronic version. Accessed 3 September 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e Burridgea and Smolenski (2004). Molecular phylogeny of the Cheilodactylidae and Latridae (Perciformes: Cirrhitoidea) with notes on taxonomy and biogeography. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 30: 118–127
  4. ^ Randall (2007). Reef and Shore Fishes of the Hawaiian Islands. ISBN 1-929054-03-3
  5. ^ a b Burridge and White (2000). Molecular phylogeny of the antitropical subgenus Goniistius (Perciformes: Cheilodactylidae: Cheilodactylus): evidence for multiple transequatorial divergences and non-monophyly. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 70: 435–458.
  6. ^ Burridge (2004). Cheilodactylus (Goniistius) francisi, a new species of morwong (Perciformes: Cirrhitoidea) from the southwest Pacific. Rec. Aust. Mus. 56: 231-234.

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  • morwong — /ˈmɔwɒŋ / (say mawwong) noun (plural morwong or morwongs) any of a number of species of marine food fishes of the family Cheilodactylidae, especially Nemadactylus douglasii, of southern Australian and New Zealand waters; black perch. {Australian… …  

  • morwong — smulkiažvynė spalvotoji nernė statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas taksono rangas rūšis atitikmenys: lot. Diagramma pictum angl. blackall; blue sweetlips; morwong; painted grunt; painted sweetlips; thicklip rus. мелкочешуйная диаграмма;… …   Žuvų pavadinimų žodynas

  • morwong — žvaigždėtasis kiauliasnukis statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas taksono rangas rūšis atitikmenys: lot. Lethrinus nebulosus angl. green snapper; yellow sweetlip; morwong; spangled emperor; starry pigface bream rus. звездчатый летрин ryšiai:… …   Žuvų pavadinimų žodynas

  • morwong — didžiapelekis džakas statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas taksono rangas rūšis atitikmenys: lot. Nemadactylus macropterus angl. jackass fish; morwong; tarakihi rus. большепёрый джакас; серый джакас ryšiai: platesnis terminas – džakai …   Žuvų pavadinimų žodynas

  • morwong — noun Any of various perciform fishes comprising the family Cheilodactylidae …   Wiktionary

  • morwong — n. type of fish found in Atlantic waters of the Cheilodactylidae family …   English contemporary dictionary

  • morwong — [ mɔ:wɒŋ] noun a brightly coloured marine fish of Australian waters. [Nemadactylus and other genera.] Origin C19: prob. from a New South Wales Aborig. lang …   English new terms dictionary

  • morwong — mor·wong …   English syllables

  • morwong — n. any of various fish of the family Cheilodactylidae, native to Australasia, used as food. Etymology: Aboriginal …   Useful english dictionary

  • Red morwong — Drawing by Dr Tony Ayling Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia …   Wikipedia

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