The Spotted Handfish is endemic to Tasmania and is found in parts of the Derwent Estuary, Frederick Henry, Ralphs and North West Bays. Spotted Handfish are small (up to 120 mm long) slow moving fish which appear to walk on their pectoral and pelvic fins rather than swim. The Spotted Handfish is white, cream or brown covered in many dark brown, orange or black spots and sometimes stripes. The first dorsal fin is prominent over the head and the second dorsal fin is long extending back down to the tail.
Spotted Handfish occur in limited numbers in colonies and are usually found on soft substrates often in shallow depressions or near rocks or other projections. They are found in depths of 2 to 30 m below the surface. They eat small molluscs, crustaceans and marine worms. Spawning is from September to October, eggs are attached to objects on the substrate and the female remains in attendance until they hatch.
The small overall numbers and low population density means that the spotted handfish is vulnerable to disturbance. Threats may be predation by the exotic Pacific Seastar, loss of spawning habitat through scouring of seabed, e.g. by boat mooring chains, and water quality issues from industrial pollution, urban effluent and siltation.