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Kurtus indicus.jpg
male Indian humphead (K. indicus)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Kurtidae
Bleeker, 1859
Genus: Kurtus
Bloch, 1786
Type species
Kurtus indicus
Bloch, 1786
  • Cyrtus Minding, 1832
  • Curtus (misspelling)

Kurtus is a genus of perciform fishes, called the nurseryfishes, forehead brooders, or incubator fish, native to fresh, brackish and coastal marine waters ranging from India, through southeast Asia to New Guinea and northern Australia. Kurtus is currently the only known genus in the family Kurtidae.[1][2] They are famous for carrying their egg clusters on hooks protruding from the forehead (supraoccipital) of the males, although this only has been documented in K. gulliveri and available evidence strongly suggests this is not done by K. indicus (where the hook likely also is too small to carry eggs).[3] Females do not have a hook.[3]

In addition to the egg hook, the kurtid gas bladder is enclosed in a tubular bony structure evolved from the ribs. In both species, the back is elevated into a hump shape.

Despite their unusual reproductive habits, little is known about these species. Historically they have proven very difficult to keep alive in aquaria, although recent success with K. gulliveri has been achieved by Tokyo Sea Life Park in Japan.


The currently recognized species in this genus are:[4]


  1. ^ Johnson, G.D. & Gill, A.C. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N., ed. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 189. ISBN 0-12-547665-5. 
  2. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2013). "Kurtidae" in FishBase. August 2013 version.
  3. ^ a b Berra, T.B. (2003). Nurseryfish, Kurtus gulliveri (Perciformes: Kurtidae), from northern Australia: redescription, distribution, egg mass, and comparison with K. indicus from southeast Asia. Ichthyol. Explor. Freshwaters 14(4): 295-306.
  4. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2013). Species of Kurtus in FishBase. August 2013 version.