Friday Fish Time (Fishy Friday)Posted: December 7, 2012
(Disclaimer – These are the words of others and I will not be held responsible for any offense.)
Old Wife: It has a deep and compressed body and concave forehead. The name – old wife – refers to the sound caused by it grinding its teeth when caught (or the Old Man comes home from the pub smelling of grog and cheap perfume).
It has the same features as other butterfly fish but the old wife is easily distinguished by its silver-and-black, vertical zebra-striped coloration, and by its two large dorsal fins. The dorsal fins have bony, knife-like spines. These have no obvious venom groove nor gland but the spines are widely considered to inflict a painful venom.
The fish grows up to 50 cm long and is found in the temperate waters around Australia.
It is one of the earliest fish described in Australian. In 1790, John White in his Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales originally named it the long-spined chaetodon.
In 1836, closely related fossils were found in Europe. The well preserved fossils show the basic body plan and even the zebra pattern of colouring have not changed significantly over the past 50 million years.