Common name: False trevallies


Moderately small sized fishes with a moderately deep compressed body, two separate dorsal fins, a forked tail; head large, mouth large, oblique with the lower jaw protruding beyond the upper; upper jaw reaching beyond the middle of the eye.

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Dianne J. Bray, False trevallies, LACTARIIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 May 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

Family with a single species, Lactarius lactarius.

Family Distribution

Widespread in coastal waters of the Red Sea and Indo-West-Central Pacific. The False Trevally is a schooling species found over soft bottoms in marine and estuarine waters in depths of 0-100 metres.

Family Description

Meristic features: Dorsal fin VII-VIII;  I, 19-23; Anal fin III, 25-28; Pelvic fin I, 5; Gill rakers (total first arch) 16-21; Lateral line scales 74-80.

Body moderately deep, strongly compressed, with two separate dorsal fins and the caudal peduncle not narrow. Head large, eye large; mouth large, oblique, upper jaw reaching beyond the middle of the eye, lower jaw protruding beyond upper; front of each jaw with a pair of small sharp canine teeth.

Two dorsal fins, the first spinous, the second relatively long-based; anal fin longer that second dorsal fin and not preceded by detached spines; pectoral fins long, pointed; pelvic fins inserted below pectoral fins, and half pectoral-fin length; caudal fin forked.

Body covered in moderately-sized easily shed cycloid scales; scutes absent; lateral line gently curved.

Family Size

To a maximum length of 35 cm SL; usually to abut 25 cm SL.

Family Colour

An iridescent silvery blue above, silvery white below with a dusky blotch on the upper part of the gill cover, fins clear to slightly yellow.

Family Feeding

Carnivores, feeding on benthic invertebrates and fishes.

Family Commercial

The False Trevally is taken on hook-and-line, gill nets, seines and trawls fisheries in coastal fisheries throughout their range.

Family Conservation

IUCN: Not evaluated.


Dianne J. Bray


Appa Rao, T. 1966. On some aspects of the biology of Lactarius lactarius (Schneider). Indian J. Fish. 13: 334-349.

Leis, J.M. 1994. Larvae, adults and relationships of the monotypic perciform fish family Lactariidae. Rec. Austr. Mus. 46(2): 131-144.

Leis, J.M. 1999. Family Lactariidae. 2649 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 2069-2790 pp.

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

Paxton, J.R., J.E. Gates & D.F. Hoese. 2006. Lactariidae (p. 1130). In: Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds) 2006. Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3 2178 pp.

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1985. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls [156]