Rock Blackfish, Girella elevata Macleay 1881

Other Names: Black Drummer, Black Rockfish, Eastern Rock Blackfish, Eastern Rock Blackfish Drummer, Pig

Juvenile Rock Blackfish, Girella elevata, in Jervis Bay, New South Wales. Source: Rick Stuart-Smith / Reef Life Survey. License: CC by Attribution


A uniformly dark bluish-grey blackfish with a black margin along the rear edge of the gill cover. Juveniles are somewhat mottled with dark divided bands on the back.

Video of Rock Blackfish at Manly Beach, Sydney, New South Wales.
Rock Blackfish in the Batemans Marine Park, New south Wales (aka Eastern Rock Blackfish).

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Girella elevata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Jun 2024,

Rock Blackfish, Girella elevata Macleay 1881

More Info


Recorded in Australia from about Noosa, Queensland, to Apollo Bay, Victoria, and northern Tasmania; also at Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. Rock Blackfish are relatively rare in Victoria west of Wilsons Promontory. Elsewhere the species occurs in northern New Zealand.
Inhabits exposed rocky reefs in depths to 25 m, often in turbulent waters. Forms large schools under piers and jetties and around rocky outcrops, and often shelters in caves, under ledges and around boulders during the day. Juveniles prefer more sheltered habitats such as seagrass beds, tidepools, and sheltered reef areas.


Dorsal fin XIII, 14; Anal fin III, 11-12; Caudal fin 17; Pectoral fin 19; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line approx. 51-58.
Body moderately deep (approx. 42% SL), compressed, dorsal and ventral profiles evenly arched; caudal peduncle moderately shallow. Head small (approx. 27% SL), forehead slightly convex; eyes small (approx. 25% HL); mouth small, not reaching below eyes, maxillae concealed beneath respective preorbital bones; each jaw with single outer row of non overlapping, flattened, tricuspid teeth bordering broad band of minute teeth of similar shape.

Scales moderately small, ctenoid, covering body, most of cheeks, upper half of opercles and bases of dorsal and anal fins; lateral line continuous, parallel with upper profile of body.

Dorsal fin continuous with little demarcation between spinous and soft portions, base of spinous portion about 1.3 times as long as that of soft part, spines progressively longer posteriorly, soft rays markedly longer than spines, soft portion of dorsal rounded; anal fin similar to and opposite soft part of dorsal fin; caudal fin very large, broadly forked. Pectoral fins small, upper rays longest. Pelvic fins small, inserted below, and just behind pectoral fin bases.


Omnivore - feeds on a rande of invertebrates and algae.


A popular angling fish in southern Queensland and New South Wales. Cunjuvoi, red bait crabs and the sea cabbage Ulva are often used as bait. The flesh is of good quality when eaten fresh.

Species Citation

Girella elevata Macleay, 1881, Proc. Linn. Soc. N. S. W. 1 5(3): 408. Type locality: Port Jackson, NSW.


Bray, D.J. 2018

Rock Blackfish, Girella elevata Macleay 1881


Allan, R. 2002. Australian Fish and How to Catch Them. Sydney : New Holland Publishers (Australia) 394 pp.

Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. 1976. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30(15): 365-454 figs 1-2

Carpenter, K.E. 2001. Girellidae, Scorpididae, Microcanthidae. pp. 3297-3303 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 5 2791-3379 pp.Edgar, G.J. 2008. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland 2, 624 pp.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Monodactylidae, Arripidae, Kyphosidae, Girellidae, Microcanthidae, Scorpididae. pp. 596-607 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1994. Family Girellidae. pp. 613-617, figs 540-543 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs.

Macleay, W.J. 1881. Descriptive catalogue of the fishes of Australia. Part 1. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 5(3): 302-444.

Roughley, T.C. 1957. Fish and Fisheries of Australia. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 341 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37361006

Depth:0-25 m

Fishing:Popular angling fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:62 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map