Black Rockcod

Scientific name

Epinephelus daemeliiHow to identify a Black Rockcod

Status in NSW



  1. Juveniles and sub-adults have a distinct black 'saddle' shaped spot just in front of the tail
  2. Five irregular grey or black stripes. These markings tend to fade as the fish grows and may be only faintly visible in adults
  3. Large canine teeth in both jaws
  4. Highly variable in colour depending on the environment. Fish in coastal reefs are usually banded and mottled in colour, while those in  estuaries are uniformly dark, sometimes black

Species similar in appearance

Queensland Groper, Bar Rockcod and the Estuary Cod.


Adult Black Rockcod can grow to 2 m in length and at least 80 kg in weight, but it is more common to see smaller fish (up to 1m/30kg).


The species is found in warm temperate and subtropical parts of the south-western Pacific. In NSW, it occurs along the coast, including Lord Howe Island.

Did you know?

The Black Rockcod is a protogynous hermaphrodite. It starts as a female and changes to a male at around 100–110 cm in length and 30 years of age!


The Black Rockcod is a territorial species that inhabits caves, gutters and crevices. They are usually found in depths up to 50 m, although individuals have been collected from below 100 m. Juveniles are found inshore, often in coastal rockpools and estuaries.

Black Rockcod
Black Rockcod
Black Rockcod
Black Rockcod
Black Rockcod
Black Rockcod
Black Rockcod
Black Rockcod
Black Rockcod
Black Rockcod

Why is the Black Rockcod threatened?

Black Rockcod populations have been significantly reduced over time due to a number of factors including

  • Past overharvesting by line, net and spearfishers
  • Hooking and handling injuries as a result of accidental hookings
  • Loss or degradation of estuarine and intertidal nursery habitats
  • Overfishing of larger males before species protection was put in place in 1983 may have impaired subsequent recruitment and recovery

More information

Watch a YouTube video of Black Rockcod in the Solitary Islands, Coffs Coast, NSW (2:04 mins)

Watch a YouTube video: Black Rockcod - Ocean survivors: protecting our rare and threatened marine species (4:22 mins)