Ornate Emperor, Lethrinus ornatus Valenciennes 1830

Other Names: Yellow-striped Emperor

An Ornate Emperor, Lethrinus ornatus, in Bali, Indonesia. Source: Gerald R. Allen / Fishbase. License: All rights reserved

A pale silvery emperor with five to six golden-orange stripes along the sides, and a bright red to golden-red margin on the operculum and preoperculum.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Lethrinus ornatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Jun 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/2464

Ornate Emperor, Lethrinus ornatus Valenciennes 1830

More Info


North of Melville Island, Northern Territory, to Broadhurst Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the east Indo-West Pacific. Inhabits sandy and soft bottom areas and seagrass beds in inshore bays, lagoons and areas near reefs. Juveniles feed on shallow reef flats at high tide.


Dorsal fin X, 9; Anal fin III, 8; Pectoral fin 13; Lateral line scales (pored) 46-47.
Body deep, 38.5-41.7% of SL, dorsal profile of snout convex over eye; cheek scales absent; inner surface of pectoral fin base scaled; 6 longitudinal scale rows (including small scale beneath dorsal fin base) between lateral line and base of middle spine of dorsal fin.


Feeds mainly on hard-shelled prey such as crustaceans, molluscs and echinoderms, crushing them with their molar-like teeth; also consumes polychaete worms and small fishes.


The species is of minor commercial importance in parts of its range, and is also taken by recreational anglers - taken in trawls, fish traps, handlines and seine nets.

Species Citation

Lethrinus ornatus Valenciennes 1830, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 6: 310. Type locality: Java.


Bray, D.J. 2017


Australian Faunal Directory

Ornate Emperor, Lethrinus ornatus Valenciennes 1830


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls. 

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Carpenter, K.E. 2001. Sparidae, Lethrinidae. pp. 2990-3050 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. 

Carpenter, K.E. & Allen, G.R. 1989. FAO Species Catalogue. Emperor fishes and large-eye breams of the world (family Lethrinidae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of lethrinid species known to date. FAO Fisheries Synopsis. No. 125, Vol. 9. Rome : FAO 118 pp.

Carpenter, K.E., Lawrence, A. & Myers, R. 2016. Lethrinus ornatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T16720345A16722445. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T16720345A16722445.en. Downloaded on 22 November 2017.

Currey, L.M., Williams, A.J., Mapstone, B.D., Davies, C.R., Carlos, G., Welch, D.J., Simpfendorfer, C.A., Ballagh, A.C., Penny, A.L., Grandecourt, E.M., Mapleston, A., Wiebkin, A.S. & Bean, K. 2013. Comparative biology of tropical Lethrinus species (Emperors): challenges for multi-species management. Journal of Fish Biology 82(3): 764-788.

Ebisawa, A. 2006. Reproductive and sexual characteristics in five Lethrinus species in waters off the Ryukyu Islands. Ichthyological Research 53: 269–280.

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp. 

Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp. 

Johannes, R.E. & MacFarlane, J.W. 1991. Traditional fishing in the Torres Strait Islands. CSIRO Division of Fisheries, Tasmania, Australia. 268 pp.

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. 

Kuiter, R.H. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Indonesian Reef Fishes. Part 1. Eels- Snappers, Muraenidae - Lutjanidae.  Australia : Zoonetics pp. 1-302.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. 

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Taylor, W.R. 1964. Fishes of Arnhem Land. Records of the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land 4: 44-307 figs 1-68 

Turnbull, C., Furlani, D., Bulman, C. & Dowdney, J. 2007. Ecological Risk Assessment for the Effects of Fishing: Report for the Torres Strait Prawn Fishery. Ecological Risk Assessment. Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.

Unsworth, R.K., Salinas De Leon, P., Garrard, S.L., Jompa, J., Smith, D.J. & Bell, J.J. 2008. High-connectivity of Indo-Pacific seagrass fish assemblages with mangrove and coral reef habitats. Marine Ecology Progress Series 353: 213.

Valenciennes, A. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1830. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 6 559 pp. pls 141-169.

Wilson, G.G. 1998. A description of the early juvenile colour patterns of eleven Lethrinus species (Pisces: Lethrinidae) from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Records of the Australian Museum 50(1): 55-83. 

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37351015


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:5-30 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:45 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map