Beaked Drummer (species: Kyphosus sectatrix) in taxonomy (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Kyphosus sectatrix
Beaked Drummer

©Kendall Clements: Kyphosus sectatrix, Okinawa, Japan.

©Paul Asman: Kyphosus sectatrix with nemipterid Scolopsis bilineata (below right) at Anchor Bay, Lizard island.

©Kendall Clements: Kyphosus sectatrix from North Point, Lizard Island. Identified by Prof. Kendall Clements, University of Auckland.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Perciformes
Family Kyphosidae
Genus Kyphosus
Species Kyphosus sectatrix

Distinguishing features

This is the only Kyphosus species with xanthic (yellow) individuals but that doesn't help to identify non-xanthic ones. It can have thin bronze lines along the sides but not as noticeably as in Kyphosus vaigiensis. Unlike Kyphosus vaigiensis and Kyphosus bigibbus, the rear edge of the anal fin does not line up with the upper edge of the tail.


  • From 2.6 cm to 44.8 cm (standard length (Knudsen and Clements, 2013))

Depth range

  • Up to 25 m



The specimen from Lizard Island photographed here is a new record for the area.

Sakai and Nakabo (2004) described two new species that had previously been included in Kyphosus bigibbus. One of those (Kyphosus pacificus) was found by Knudsen and Clements (2013) to be a synonym of Kyphosus sectatrix. Both Kyphosus bigibbus and Kyphosus sectatrix occur in the Lizard Island area.

Identification books published prior to the revisions cited above necessarily use the old names. Prof. Kendall Clements has provided the following information:

* The photos labelled Kyphosus bigibbus on p 132 of Allen et al (2003) are of Kyphosus sectatrix.

* The photos labelled Kyphosus sydneyanus on pp 304 and 306 of Randall (2005) are both Kyphosus bigibbus. The photo of Kyphosus bigibbus on p 305 is correctly labelled (it's a young individual).

by Anne Hoggett


©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Local abundance

  • Lizard Island area: Apparently uncommon because it was first recorded from the area in Dec 2016. However, this may be due to misidentifications in the past.

Web resources


References that assist with identification

  • Allen, G., R. Steene, P. Humann and N. Deloach (2003). Reef fish identification: Tropical Pacific New World Publications Inc., Jacksonville, FL, USA.
  • Randall, J.E. (2005). Reef and Shore Fishes of the South Pacific.: New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.

Other references

  • Knudsen, S.W. and K.D. Clements (2013). Revision of the fish family Kyphosidae (Teleostei: Perciformes). Zootaxa,, 3751(1): 1-101. LIRS catalog number 90223.