Spangled Emperor, Lethrinus nebulosus (Forsskål 1775)

Other Names: Green Snapper, Morwong, North-west Snapper, Nor'-west Snapper, Sand Bream, Sand Snapper, Sixteen-pounders, Yellow Sweetlip, Yellow Sweet-lip

A Spangled Emperor, Lethrinus nebulosus, at Fairy Bower, Manly, New South Wales, October 2013. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A widespread yellowish or bronze emperor with a paler belly, with whitish to pale blue spots on the scale centres, 3 blue streaks blue spots radiating from the eye, dorsal fin with a reddish margin, and sometimes irregular dark indistinct bars on sides and a square black blotch above the pectoral fin. Juveniles usually have blotches or stripes.
Video of a school of Spangled Emperor on the Great Barrier Reef.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Lethrinus nebulosus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 18 Jul 2024,

Spangled Emperor, Lethrinus nebulosus (Forsskål 1775)

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Widespread throughout the Indo-West Pacific, from the Red Sea, Persian Gulf and East Africa to Southern Japan and Samoa. Spangled Emperor inhabit inshore and offshore coral and rocky reefs, coralline lagoons, seagrass beds, mangrove swamps, and nearshore sandy and rocky areas.
Adults are usually solitary or form small groups, while juveniles form large schools.


Carnivore - feeds mostly on echinoderms, molluscs, crustaceans, and also consumes polychaete worms and bony fishes.


Dianne J. Bray

Spangled Emperor, Lethrinus nebulosus (Forsskål 1775)


Marriott RJ, Adams DJ, Jarvis NDC, Moran MJ, Newman SJ & Craine M. 2011. Age-based demographic assessment of fished stocks of Lethrinus nebulosus in the Gascoyne Bioregion of Western Australia. Fisheries Management and Ecology 18: 89–103. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2400.2010.00754.x

Marriott RJ, Jarvis NDC, Adams DJ, Gallash AE, Norriss J & Newman SJ. 2010. Maturation and sexual ontogeny in the spangled emperor, Lethrinus nebulosus. J Fish Biol 76: 1396–1414. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8649.2010.02571.x

Moran M, Edmonds J, Jenke J, Cassels G, Burton C. 1993. Fisheries biology of emperors (Lethrinidae) in North-West Australian coastal waters. FRDC Project 89/20 Final Report, Fisheries Department of Western Australia, Perth. 58 pp.

Pillans RD, Bearham D, Boomer A, Downie R, Patterson TA, Damian P, Thomson DP & Babcock RC. 2014. Multi Year Observations Reveal Variability in Residence of a Tropical Demersal Fish, Lethrinus nebulosus: Implications for Spatial Management. PLoS ONE 9(9): e105507. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105507

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37351008

Biology:Capable of changing sex

Depth:0-84 m

Fishing:Recreational fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:94 cm TL

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