Black Rockcod, Epinephelus daemelii Click to enlarge image
A Black Rockcod at a depth of 12 m, North Solitary Island, New South Wales, 4 January 2013. Image: Ian Shaw
© Ian Shaw

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    The Black Rockcod grows to at least 1.55 m in length


The Black Rockcod is a common New South Wales species but is rarely seen due to its secretive nature usually found hiding in caves and under ledges. Found on coastal reefs, estuaries and deep offshore.


The Black Rockcod can be recognised by a combination of features. These include the presence of canine teeth at the front of both jaws, posterior nostrils larger than the anterior nostrils and a grey to black background colour.

The species has small black spots and bars that are dark dorsally but fade ventrally. In larger fish these bars are often faint.


It occurs in Australia, New Zealand and the Kermadec Islands.

In Australia it is known from coastal and offshore reefs and islands from southern Queensland to eastern Victoria. It is also known from Elizabeth Reef, Middleton Reef, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Economic impacts

The territorial nature of the Black Rockcod makes it vulnerable to spearfishing and angling. Declining numbers resulted in the Black Rockcod being declared a vulnerable species in New South Wales waters in 1984. It is illegal to sell Black Rockcod in the state of New South Wales.


  1. Harasti, D. & H. Malcolm. 2013. Distribution, relative abundance and size composition of the threatened serranid Epinephelus daemelii in New South Wales, Australia. Journal of Fish Biology. doi: 10.1111/jfb.12179.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  3. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  5. Pogonoski, J. 2005. Black Rockcod. Nature Australia. 28(6): 20-21.
  6. Pogonoski, J.J., Pollard, D.A. & J.R. Paxton. 2002. Conservation Overview and Action Plan for Australian Threatened and Potentially Threatened Marine and Estuarine Fishes. Environment Australia. Pp. 375.