Orangestriped Emperor, Lethrinus obsoletus (Forsskål 1775)

Other Names: Orange-striped Emperor, Yellow-banded Emperor, Yellowstripe Emperor

An Orangestriped Emperor, Lethrinus obsoletus, at the Cod Hole on Ribbon Reef #10, Great Barrier Reef, December 2006. Source: Richard Ling / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

An olive to reddish-brown emperor with a broad yellowish-orange stripe along lower side from the pectoral-fin base to the caudal peduncle. Individuals may also have a mottled brown pattern, or may lack markings.

Cite this page as:
Lethrinus obsoletus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Jun 2024,

Orangestriped Emperor, Lethrinus obsoletus (Forsskål 1775)

More Info


Offshore reefs of Western Australia (Rowley Shoals, Scott Reef and Hibernia Reef), Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, and the northern Great  Barrier Reef, Queensland; also at Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the Indo-West Pacific from the Red Sea and East Africa to the Ryukyu Islands, Tonga and Samoa. 
Mostly inhabits seagrass beds, sandy and rubble areas in lagoons and reefs, at depths to 30 m. Juveniles usually occur in seagrass beds and move to reef habitats as they grow.


Pale tan to olive or brown, paler below, with a yellowish-orange stripe along lower side; two additional faint orange-yellow stripes above and one main stripe; paler scale centres, several broad indistinct vertical and diagonal pale and dark bands on head; sometimes white spots below eye; rear margin of operculum dark brown; fins whitish or tan, sometimes mottled.


Feeds mostly on crustaceans, molluscs and echinoderms.


A relatively slow growing, late maturing protogynous hermaphrodite (changes sex from female to male during the life cycle).


Fished throughout its distribution range, including in Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery in the Great Barrier Reef where it is mostly taken by recreational fishers.

Species Citation

Sciaena obsoleta Forskål 1775, Descriptiones Animalium: 52. Type locality: Arabia.


Australian Faunal Directory

Orangestriped Emperor, Lethrinus obsoletus (Forsskål 1775)


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

Allen, G.R. & Russell, B.C. 1986. Part VII Fishes. pp. 79-103 in Berry, P.F. (ed.) Faunal Surveys of the Rowley Shoals, Scott Reef and Seringapatam Reef, northwestern Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 25: 1-106 

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21 

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 obsoletus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T16720267A16722420. Downloaded on 13 October 2017.

Currey, L.M., Williams, A.J., Mapstone, B.D., Davies, CR., Carlos, G., Welch, D.J., Simpfendorfer, C.A., Ballagh, A.C., Penny, A.L., Grandcourt, E.M., Mapleston, A., Wiebkin, A.S. & Bean, K. 2013. Comparative biology of tropical Lethrinus species (Lethrinidae): challenges for multi-species management. Journal of Fish Biology 82(3): 764-788 DOI: 10.1111/jfb.3495 Abstract

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

Ebisawa, A. & Ozawa, T. 2009. Life-history traits of eight Lethrinus species from two local populations in waters off the Ryukyu Islands. Fisheries Science 75: 553–566 Abstract

Forskål, P. 1775. Descriptiones Animalium Avium, Amphibiorum, Piscium, Insectorum, Vermium; quæ in Itinere Orientali observavit Petrus Forskål. Post Mortem Auctoris edidit Carsten Niebuhr. Adjuncta est Materia Medica Kakirina atque Tabula Maris Rubri Geographica. Hauniæ : Mölleri 1-19, i-xxxiv, 164 pp., 1 map. 

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp. 

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Biodiversity of shallow reef fish assemblages in Western Australia using a rapid censusing technique. Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 247-270 

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, B.M., Oyafuso, Z.S. & Trianni, M.S. 2017. Life history of the orange-striped emperor Lethrinus obsoletus from the Mariana Islands. Ichthyologial Research 10 pp, Abstract

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37351019


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:30 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:60 cm TL

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