Common name: Tailor



Tailor are fast-swimming voracius predators with the following characteristics: body moderately long, streamlined, somewhat compressed with a large mouth, a single row of knife-like teeth and a forked tail; two dorsal fins, the first low with weak spines, the second long-based and elevated anteriorly; anal fin similar to, but lower than second dorsal fin; pectoral and pelvic fins small. Body silvery grey or steel grey to bluish grey above, fading to silver below, with a small dark blotch at the pectoral-fin base. A very popular gamefish, frequently taken off beaches.


Like tunas, swordfishes and some sharks, Tailor can maintain their body temperatures at least 4°C above the surrounding water temperature.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Tailor, POMATOMIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

More Info

Family Taxonomy

Family with a single widespread species, Pomatomus saltatrix.

Family Distribution

Widespread in tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans; absent from the Eastern and Northwestern Pacific Ocean. Known in Australian waters from about Hervey Bay (Queensland) to the Dampier Archipelago (Western Australia) and around Tasmania. A pelagic migratory species found in coastal waters, bays, estuaries and in offshore waters, especially off beaches at depths to 15 m. Form large schools in surface waters.

Juveniles are usually found in large bays and estuaries, while adults prefer rocky headlands and the surf zones of beaches.

Family Description

Meristic features: Dorsal fin VII-VIII, i, 23-28; Anal fin II-III, 23-27; Pectoral fin 16-17; Pelvic fin I, 5: Caudal fin 17; Lateral line scales 90-100; Gill rakers 3 + 10-13.

Body slender, streamlined, moderately compressed; mouth large, oblique, with a single row of knife-like teeth; two dorsal fins, the first low with weak spines, the second long-based, elevated anteriorly; anal fin similar to, but lower than second dorsal fin; pectoral and pelvic fins small; tail forked.

Family Size

Length to about 1.3 m and a weight of 14'4 kg, although most are smaller.

Family Colour

Dark steel-grey, bluish to greenish grey above, fading to silver below, with a dark marking at pectoral fin base. Fins olive-greyish to almost white, iris yellow to grey.

Family Feeding

Aggressive and voracious predatory fishes. Tailor feed in schools, preying mostly on smaller schooling fishes, and have been known to attack people caught up in the feeding frenzy.

As larvae, they feed on microscopic crustaceans and other planktonic organisms. Juvenile Tailor prey on crustaceans and small fishes. Adult tailor feed mostly on other schooling fishes, although they will take crustaceans and molluscs.

Family Reproduction

The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Adults migrate northwards to spawn offshore during late winter and spring. Tailor mature at about 2 years, and females spawn millions of eggs. The larvae develop over the outer continental shelf, before returning to coastal waters. Tailor reportedly live to 10 years of age.

Family Commercial

A very popular commercial and recreational gamefish. Recreational anglers are thought to catch many more Tailor than commercial fishers.

Family Conservation

Australia: not listed.

IUCN: Not evaluated

Family Remarks

Tailor travel offshore in large schools of similarly-sized individuals, following schools of baitfishes and other smaller species. Juveniles tend to school in bays, estuaries and shallow coastal waters.

Family Diagnostic


Dianne J. Bray


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