A yellow ornate klipfish, at photographers reef. Photo Carel v.d. Colff

A yellow ornate klipfish, at photographers reef. Photo Carel v.d. Colff

An individual photographed off Percy's Reef, eastern False Bay. Photo Guido Zsilavecz

An individual taken somewhere in False Bay. Photo Sharon Albert
Ornate klipfish (Clinus ornatus
The ornate klipfish is a rare variant of the super klipfish Clinus superciliosus. Described as a new species by Barnard in 1927, Penrith placed it in C. superciliosus in 1969, due to a lack of evidence that it was indeed a new species. While we are not certain it is, investigation into the "superciliosus complex" revealed that there are multiple, similar, species masquerading as one, and we believe that this is one of them, and that it is the ornatus Barnard described. It can be distinguished from C. superciliosus by having a rounder head profile - not as pointed as C. superciliosus, and by the dorsal crest. In most C. superciliosus the crest forms a triangular "sail", whereas in C. ornatus this sail is almost square.

The species is rare, and these are the only three specimens we know off that have been photographed. It seems to occurs on deeper reefs or reefs further offshore - Percy's isn't far ofshore, but the drop from shore is considerable, compared to the slight slopes found around Simon's Town. The individual photographed by Carel v.d. Colff was found at Photographers reef - not deep, but separated from the shore by a few hundred meters of sand. Where the one Sharon photograhed is not sure, but knowing she only did boat dives, it must have been on an off-shore site somewhere.

While we know that distinguishing this fish from C. superciliosus is not easy, if you happen to have a photo of a fish which resembles it, please do send it to us. Submission details are shown on the index page.
References:
The systematics of the fishes of the family Clindae in South Africa, ML Penrith, Annals of the South African Museum, Volume 55, Part 1, 1969
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