Mangrove Jack, Lutjanus argentimaculatus (Forsskål 1775)

Other Names: Creek Red Bream, Dog Bream, Mangrove Red Snapper, Purple Sea Perch, Purple Sea-perch, Red Bass, Red Bream, Red Perch, Red Reef Bream, River Roman, Rock Barramundi

A Mangrove Jack, Lutjanus argentimaculatus, at South West Rocks, New South Wales, April 2013. Source: Sascha Schultz / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A very popular sports fish with a greenish-brown to reddish body, and a silvery-white belly. Individuals in deeper waters are reddish overall. Juveniles have a series of about 8 whitish bars on the sides, and 1-2 blue lines across the cheek. The Mangrove Jack has a slightly concave caudal fin and the scale rows on the back are roughly parallel to the lateral line. 

Video of Mangrove Jacks on the NSW North Coast
Video of Mangrove Jacks, Bream and Jungle Perch amongst mangrove roots on Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland.
Video of a Mangrove Jack being fed in an aquarium.
Mangrove Jacks in Moreton Bay

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray, Lutjanus argentimaculatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 Jul 2024,

Mangrove Jack, Lutjanus argentimaculatus (Forsskål 1775)

More Info


Widespread in northern Australia from Geraldton, WA, around the tropical north to Lake Illawarra, NSW; also Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in the tropical Indo-west-central Pacific, and has been recorded from the coast of Lebanon in the Mediterranean Sea having reached there via the Suez Canal.

Adults usually inhabit coral reefs, often sheltering in caves or under ledges during the day. Juveniles and young adults occur amongst mangroves and in tidal creeks, and are sometimes found in the lower reaches of fresh-water streams. As they grow, they migrate offshore to deeper reef areas. 


Meristic features: Dorsal fin X, 13-14; Anal fin III, 8; Pectoral fin 16-17; Gill rakers 16-20 (lower 9-12).
Body moderately deep, depth 2.5-3.1 times in standard length. Snout somewhat pointed; preorbital bone relatively broad, wider than eye diameter; preopercular notch and knob poorly developed; jaws with well developed canine teeth; vomerine tooth patch crescentic, without a medial posterior extension; tongue with patch of granular teeth.
Scale rows on back more or less parallel to lateral line, or parallel below spinous part of dorsal fin and sometimes rising obliquely posteriorly, or rarely with entirely oblique rows.
Dorsal fin continuous; posterior profile of dorsal and anal fins rounded. Caudal fin emarginate to nearly truncate.


To 120 cm SL, commonly to 80 cm.


Back and sides greenish-brown to reddish, belly silvery or whitish; those from deep water overall reddish. Juveniles with series of about 8 whitish bars crossing sides, and 1-2 blue lines across cheek.


Carnivores - active predators feeding mainly at night on fishes, crustaceans, gastropods and cephalopod molluscs.


Oviparous pelagic spawners. Spawning occurs on deeper offshore reefs during the summer months. Juveniles around 2cm in length settle out from the plankton into coastal estuaries during late summer. They spend several years in estuaries, ranging upstream into brackish mangrove creeks and the lower reaches of freshwater streams. 
Tagging studies indicate that Mangrove Jacks migrate to offshore reefs at 40-50 cm in length.


A popular and important commercial and recreational fish throughout its range, and considered to be an excellent food fish. Taken mostly with handlines, bottom longlines, and in bottom trawls.


Like other tropical snappers (family Lutjanidae), Mangrove Jacks  have prominent canine teeth in their jaws that are used for seizing and holding prey. These teeth can cause a nasty injury to unwary fishers.

Similar Species

Similar to the Red Bass, Lutjanus bohar, which is usually darker in coloration and has fewer dorsal-fin spines, scale rows on the back that rise obliquely from the lateral line, and a deep groove from the nostrils to the eyes.

Species Citation

Sciaena argentimaculata  Forsskål, 1775. Descript. Animal. :47. Type locality: Arabia.


Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray

Mangrove Jack, Lutjanus argentimaculatus (Forsskål 1775)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37346015

Depth:0-120 m

Fishing:Commercial, recreational, aquaculture fish

Habitat:Reefs, mangroves, freshwater streams

Max Size:150 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map