skip to content
Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Spangled emperor

illustration of a spangled emperor

The spangled emperor (Lethrinus nebulosus) is sometimes called north-west snapper or yellow emperor. It belongs to the Lethrinidae family, which also includes sea bream and large-eye bream. Known as Lethrinids, they have robust teeth at the front and side of the jaws, and cheeks without scales. They are carnivorous, bottom-feeding fish.

The spangled emperor can live for more than 30 years. It can grow to 800 mm and 8 kg. It has a golden-brown body with blue spots on the scales of the upper body and blue bars or lines radiating from the eyes over the cheeks and snout.

It can change colour by switching on pigment cells in its skin. When an emperor is frightened, it often produces blotchy vertical brown bands across its body. It can have one colour pattern when taken out of the water and develop another over the following minutes. This can make identification of the species quite difficult.

The spangled emperor has been named an ‘indicator species’ in the Gascoyne Coast Bioregion (from north of Kalbarri to the Ashburton River). This means its stock status, along with the status of several other indicator species, is used to indicate the status of all demersal (bottom-dwelling) fish in the region.

Distribution and habitat

Lethrinids are found mostly in the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region.

In Western Australia, spangled emperor are found mainly in northern waters. However, they can sometimes be found as far south as Rottnest Island.

They are reef dwellers – ranging from shallow coral reefs and seagrass beds to deep rocky reefs 200 m deep.

Illustration © R. Swainston/www.anima.net.au

 

Last modified: 11/06/2013 10:58 AM

wa.gov.au

© All contents copyright Government of Western Australia. All rights reserved. ABN: 55 689 794 77

Copyright

© This work is copyright. You may display, print or reproduce this material only in an unaltered format for your personal or non-commercial use, or for use within your organisation. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, all other rights are reserved.

Disclaimer

The information and advice provided by the Department of Fisheries website is made in good faith and is from sources believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of release onto the website. Changes in circumstances after a document is placed on the website may affect the accuracy of the information. Full disclaimer details are available at www.fish.wa.gov.au.