Common name: Giant Sea Basses, Hapuku, Wreckfishes

Large, long-lived fishes with a general perch-like appearance. Wreckfishes were previously placed in the Serranidae, Epinephelidae and Percichthyidae, prior to their placement in their own family by Roberts (1986). 

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Martin F. Gomon, Wreckfishes, POLYPRIONIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

A small family comprising 2 genera and 4 species. A single genus Polyprion with 2 species occurs in Australian waters.

Family Distribution

Found in subtropical and temperate seas of the world, usually below 100 m.

Family Description

Dorsal fin rays XI-XII, 10-13; base of soft dorsal fin about half length of spinous fin base. Vertebrae 26-27. Interorbital broad, each frontal bone sculptured with radiating and transverse bony ridges.

Family Commercial

Although wreckfishes are only of minor commercial importance in Australia, they are important food fishes in New Zealand.

Family Remarks

Key to Australian species of Polyprion (by Clive Roberts)

1    Body depth >35% SL; pectoral fin length 44-50% HL; side of body uniform colour in adults (mottled in pelagic juveniles)……………………..…………Polyprion americanus

      Body depth <30% SL; pectoral fin length 35-44% HL; side of body countershaded colour in adults (oblique bands in pelagic juveniles)……………………….Polyprion oxygeneios


Dianne J. Bray & Martin F. Gomon


Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & Allen, G.R. 2006. Fishes. In, Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing : Australia Part 1, pp. xxiv 1–670; Part 2, pp. xxi 671–1472; Part 3, pp. xxi 1473–2178

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp.

Roberts, C.D. 1986. Systematics of the percomorph fish genus Polyprion Oken, 1817. Ph.D. diss., Victoria University, Wellington, 283pp.

Roberts, C.D. 1993. Comparative morphology of spined scales and their phylogenetic significance in the Teleostei. Bulletin of Marine Science 52(1): 60-113

Roberts, C.D. & Gomon, M. F. 2008. Families Polyprionidae, Serranidae and Callanthiidae. pp. 534-549 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Waite, E.R. 1913. Notes on New Zealand Fishes: No. 3. Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 45: 215-224 [pl. 5]