Painted Comber The painted comber has a laterally compressed, elongate body with a pointed snout. The dorsal fin has 10 spines and 4-16 soft rays and the anal fin has 3 spines and 7-8 soft rays. It is typically 45 cm long but it can grow up to 55 cm long. The dorsal, anal, and caudal fins are marked with red dots. The body is mostly red with four to ten white, vertical bars along its length. The inside of the mouth is black. It has a patch of soft, spines on the tip of its upper jaw.
This species is distributed along with Southwest Australia. It can be found on sandy bottoms at depths of 5 to 90 m, often sheltering among rocks or in caves. The painted comber feeds on small crustaceans and other benthic invertebrates including shrimps, crabs, polychaetes, bivalves, cephalopods, and echinoderms.
This species is oviparous. Males guard the eggs until they hatch. The larvae are pelagic and form part of the zooplankton. They feed on planktonic crustaceans for a year before settling on the bottom as juveniles. This species can live up to 20 years.
Commercial fishing for the painted comber began in the 1930s. It is fished using demersal tangle nets, bottom trawls, and rock hoppers. Painted combers are caught throughout the year but mostly during autumn and winter. The catch levels remain low at around 1,000 tons per year. They are processed for fishmeal and as a food source.
The painted comber is caught with bottom gillnets, tangle nets, and trawls. It can be found in the benthic zone at depths of 5 to 90 meters. More research could be conducted to determine its population trends so that further management plans can be drawn up. They are threatened by habitat degradation and coastal development.
This species is exploited by commercial fisheries and is used for human consumption. It has been assessed as near threatened by the IUCN red list of threatened species because it has a limited geographic distribution, low numbers of individuals, and high levels of exploitation. Although there are some protective measures in place, such as minimum size limits and closed fishing seasons, this species is still under high levels of threat.
Global painted comber production
According to the FAO, global production of painted comber fish was 16,760 tonnes in 2016. The vast majority of this fish is caught in the wild, with only a small portion coming from aquaculture. The top ten producers of this fish are:
Painted comber fish are typically found in coastal waters around Southeast Asia and China. They are a popular choice for aquaculture due to their rapid growth rate and low feed conversion ratio. In aquaculture, they are typically grown in ponds or cages. Painted comber fish are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of small invertebrates and plant matter.
This fish is an important food source in many parts of Asia. It is commonly consumed fresh, dried, salted, or fermented. The fermented fish is often used as a condiment or ingredient in other dishes. Painted comber fish are also used in traditional Chinese medicine.