Common in the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Distributed throughout the Western Pacific Region, recently reported from Tonga. In Australia recorded from the northern tip of Queensland south to the New South Wales/Victorian border, and including Lord Howe Island.
Frequent intertidal and subtidal areas of weed and algal covered rocks and rubble, commonly in estuaries and harbours. Depth generally in the range of 0 to 5 m.
A cryptic benthic species not often observed and occurrence best noted by the presence of males, which have black on the lower half of the head, including lips, black dorsal fins and black streak on the caudal peduncle. Male of E. similis has similar dark markings on head, but also black body posterior and lacks the dark dorsal fin. Male E. rufopileus tends to be dark on the head and brownish red on the remainder. Feed on tiny invertebrates and algae. Grows to 50 mm.
R. Stuart-Smith, G. Edgar, A. Green, I. Shaw, Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia. Reed New Holland Publishers, 2015. p.361.
FishBase. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2018. World Wide Web electronic publication. https://fishbase.ca/summary/Enneapterygius-atrogulare.html. Accessed 25/05/18.