|Diagnostic characters: dermal sac around most of body until flexion stage, with melanophores along dorsal and ventral edges; pectoral fin typically with 14 rays; paired row of small melanophores along ventral midline of trunk and tail; internal melanophores dorsally along vertebrae in postflexion larvae.
Body moderate. Dermal sac encloses most of body in preflexion larvae, disappearing with formation of dorsal and anal fins. Head moderate in preflexion and flexion larvae, moderate to large in postflexion larvae. One supraocular, 1 parietal, 1 pterotic, and 1 anterior preopercular and 2 posterior preopercular spines by flexion stage. Up to 5 posterior preopercular spines in postflexion larvae; anterior preopercular spines merge with posterior preopercular spines by settlement. Infraorbital, opercular, postemporal and supracleithral spines by late flexion stage. Nasal and cleithral spines in late postflexion larvae. Gut moderate in preflexion larvae, moderate to long in flexion and postflexion larvae, coiled and compact. Gas bladder present. Moderate gap between anus and origin of anal fin, reduced in postflexion larvae after anal fin is formed. Large, fan-shaped pectoral fins, extending beyond anus. Last dorsal and anal spines transform from soft rays by end of flexion stage.
Larvae have been caught throughout the year entering Lake Macquarie (NSW), with a peak abundance in September (Ref. 33621), and in coastal waters off Sydney from October to July (Ref. 33622).