Eastern Shovelnose Ray

Aptychotrema rostrata

Other names: Fiddler shark, guitarfish.

Family: Rhinobatidae (guitarfishes).


This member of the Guitarfish family is available wild caught. It is a bottom-dwelling marine fish found inshore to around 50m off eastern Australia between Moreton Bay in Queensland and Jervis Bay in NSW, caught mainly as bycatch of demersal trawlers but also by seine and gillnets.

Season: Available year round with peaks in summer.

Size and Weight: Grows to around 10kg and 120m.

Price: Low priced.


Eastern Fiddler Ray, Giant Shovelnose Ray, Southern Fiddler Ray, Western Shovelnose Ray. As a cartilaginous fish, Guitarfish are also related to Sharks but differ in that they have a large, flat, Ray-like disc formed by the (at least partial) joining of head and pectoral fins with eyes on the top and mouth and gills on the underside. They are also related to Rays and Skates, which generally have thin (often whip-like) tails, but differ in that Guitarfish tails are long and well-developed with Shark-like fins.

To Buy:

It is the tail meat that is generally eaten; it’s sold in fillet form (always skinned). Look for fillets with pale pink, firm, lustrous, moist flesh without any brown markings or oozing water and with a pleasant fresh sea smell (though the flesh of all cartilaginous fish can have a slight ammonia smell, this is normal and disappears with cooking).

To Store:

Wrap fillets in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months below -18ºC.

To Cook:

Average yield is 55% from a headless trunk. Has a mild flavour, low oiliness and moderately moist, firm flesh, which is generally boneless, although depending on the cut some cartilage, which will soften with cooking, may remain.

Cooking Methods:

Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry, bake, grill, barbecue. The firm flesh holds together well in soups, curries and casseroles and can be cubed for kebabs. Flesh has good gelling characteristics and works well minced for fish cakes and fish balls. The flesh is highly regarded in Asia (though underutilised in Australia) and the fins are often used in shark fin soup.

Goes well with:

Butter, capers, cider, lemon, lime, rosemary, sage, tomato, vinegar.


Other Guitarfish, Lings, Rays, Sharks, Skates.




Sri Lankan-style White Curry of Guitarfish & Okra >