Old Wife

old wife
© Tasmanian Government. Image Peter Gouldthorpe
Season: Open all year

bag limit5


possession limit10


boat limit-

Guide to symbols

bagBag Limit
housePossession Limit
boatBoat Limit

Minimum size


Most scalefish are measured from the nose to the end of the tail. Get your scalefish measuring ruler or sticker at any Service Tasmania outlet.

Other names

angelfish, zebrafish

Scientific name

Enoplosus armatus

Grows to

Up to

25cm and 1 kg

Identifying features

​These little fish have around eight dark brown to black vertical stripes on their silvery white bodies. Other features include an upturned mouth with small teeth, a bright yellow eye and a long, trailing second dorsal fin.


Found all around Tasmania in coastal waters to 100 metres deep. Common around inshore rocky reefs, jetties and even seagrass beds. Can be observed as solitary individuals, in pairs, or in large schools. Sometimes confused with the longsnout boarfish.

Fishing information

The old wife gets its name from a habit of making grumbling noises with its teeth after being caught. They are occasionally taken in nets but rarely on rod and line. Whilst reportedly a good eating fish, its small size normally sees them released unharmed. They are more likely to be caught over reefs or off jetties when using a small hook and small crustaceans or worms for bait.


These fish may look elegant and harmless but are armed with venomous spines around its body so care needs to be taken when handling. Sharp spines are located on the first dorsal fins, ventral fins, and gill cover.


Fishwatch Report illegal fishing

0427 655 557

What to report? arrow button

Contact us

Recreational Fishing

Level 3, 134 Macquarie St

Hobart TAS 7000

Phone: (03) 6165 3233, 1300 720 647

Email: fishing.enquiries@nre.tas.gov.au

Commercial Fisheries

Level 3, 134 Macquarie St

GPO Box 44

Phone: (03) 6165 3000, 1300 368 550

Email: commercial.fisheries@nre.tas.gov.au

Commercial Fisheries Licensing

Level 1, 134 Macquarie St

GPO Box 44

Phone: (03) 6165 3000, 1300 368 550

Email: fishing.licensing@nre.tas.gov.au