False Trevally, Lactarius lactarius (Bloch & Schneider 1801)

Other Names: Milk Trevally

False Trevally, Lactarius lactarius. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A silvery-blue false trevally fading to silvery-white below with a dusky blotch on the upper part of the gill cover and yellowish fins.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Lactarius lactarius in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 May 2023, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/4245

False Trevally, Lactarius lactarius (Bloch & Schneider 1801)

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Timor Sea, Northern Territory, to Townsville, Queensland. Elsewhere the species is widespread in coastal waters of the Red Sea and Indo-West-Central Pacific.  The False Trevally forms schools over soft bottom habitats in marine and estuarine waters in depths to 100 metres.


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; Vertebrae 24.

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.  The bases of the soft-rayed dorsal and anal fins are covered in deciduous scales.


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


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.


Carnivores, feeding on benthic invertebrates and fishes.


Larvae are notable for their limited head spination, large swim bladder and unusual pigmentation. They otherwise resemble trevally larvae (family Carangidae) (Leis 1994).


The False Trevally is moderately commercially important, especially in small artisinal fisheries. It is taken by hook-and-line, gill net, seine and trawl in coastal fisheries throughout its range.


IUCN: Not evaluated.Not listed in Australia.

Similar Species

The False Trevally is the only species in the family Lactariidae. Although superficially similar, trevallies of the family Carangidae, differ from false trevallies in having the first 1-2 anal-fin spines separate from the rest of the anal fin, a very narrow tail base, small adherent scales, spiny scutes along the rear of the lateral line in most species, and fewer soft anal fin than dorsal-fin rays.


Lactarius is from the Latin meaning "milky".

Species Citation

Scomber lactarius Bloch & Schneider 1801, Systema Ichthyologiae: 31. Type locality: Tranquebar [Tharangambadi], India.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Australian Faunal Directory

False Trevally, Lactarius lactarius (Bloch & Schneider 1801)


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

Bloch, M.E. & Schneider, J.G. 1801. Systema Ichthyologiae Iconibus ex Illustratum. Berlin 584 pp. 110 pls

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & P.J. Kailola. 1984. Trawled fishes of southern Indonesia and northwestern Australia. Australian Development Assistance Bureau, Australia, Directorate General of Fishes, Indonesia, and German Agency for Technical Cooperation, Federal Republic of Germany. 407 pp.

Leis, J.M. 1994. Larvae, adults and relationships of the monotypic perciform fish family Lactariidae. Records of the Australian Museum 46(2): 131-144. PDF Open access 

Leis, J.M. 1999. Family Lactariidae (p. 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.

Leis, J.M. & Trnski, T. 1989. The Larvae of Indo-Pacific Shorefishes. New South Wales University Press, Sydney and University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 371 pp.

Russell, B.C. & W. Houston. 1989. Offshore fishes of the Arafura Sea. The Beagle 6(1): 69-84.

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

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37333001

Depth:0-100 metres

Fishing:Commercial fish

Habitat:Inshore, estuarine, marine

Max Size:40 cm TL

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