Barramundi, Lates calcarifer (Bloch 1790)

Other Names: Barra, Barramunda, Cock-up, Palmer, Palmer Perch, Silver Barramundi

A Barramundi, Lates calcarifer, from the Lawley River, Kimberley, Western Australia. Source: Geoff Whalan / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives


A long silver, greenish-grey or greyish-blue fish with a distinctly concave head profile and pointed snout, brown to dark grey fins, a pale underside and a brown to golden eye with a bright red reflective glow at night.

Barramundi not only support important recreational and wild caught commercial fisheries, the species is also farmed in northern Australia. And, this iconic species  is very important for indigenous Australians living in the north.

Video of Barramundi in the upper reaches of the Finniss River, Northern Territory.

Video of Barramundi in the Northern Territory Wildlife Park, Berry Springs, NT.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2021, Lates calcarifer in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Jun 2024,

Barramundi, Lates calcarifer (Bloch 1790)

More Info


Known in Australia from the Fitzroy River, Western Australia to the Fitzroy River, Queensland. Elsewhere, widespread in coastal waters of the tropical Indo-west Pacific: tropical Australia through Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand, westwards to at least the west coast of India. 

A semi-catadromous species inhabiting  coastal and estuarine waters, with some individuals migrating far upstream, and others spending their lives in freshwater. Adults usually occur in or near estuaries, often around mangroves in clear or turbid water. Juveniles inhabit freshwaters in the upper reaches of rivers around undercut banks, submerged logs and overhanging vegetation.


Dorsal fin VIII-IX, 10-11; Anal fin III, 7-8; Pectoral fin 15; Gill rakers (lower limb of 1st arch) 16-17; Horizontal scale rows ~19; Lateral line scales 52-61.

Body elongate, compressed, oval, with a marked concavity between pointed head and humped back; greatest body depth 3.0-3.4 in SL; head length 2.7-2.8 in SL; eye diameter 6.4-7.7 in head length; snout and jaws pointed; mouth large, jaw reaches to behind eye; teeth in jaws, vomer and palatines villiform; teeth absent from tongue; operculum ends in a flat spine above an exposed serrated bone; preopercular margin coarsely serrated below and with a spine at the angle; nostrils on each side of head close together near eye; caudal peduncle distinct; lateral line extends onto caudal fin.

Dorsal fin deeply incised before last dorsal fin spine; 3rd dorsal spine longest and strongest, half length of head; anal fin originates below 2nd third of rayed dorsal fin; posterior part of dorsal fin, anal fin, and caudal fin rounded, with scaly bases.

Scales ctenoid, firmly fixed.


To 200 cm TL, commonly to 150 cm TL.


Silver, olive-grey or greyish-blue above, paler below; fins dark brown or grey; eye brown to golden with a bright red reflective glow.


Feeds mainly on fishes (often clupeids) and crustaceans. Juveniles also consume insects.


Barramundi are fast-growing protandrous hermaphrodites, and change sex from male to female at 3-5 years of age. Small individuals are almost exclusively male, and large fish are all female. However,  some females develop directly from immature fish, and some males may never undergo sex change.

This semi-catadromous species migrates from freshwater to shallow estuarine mudflats to spawn from September to March, peaking in November to December and February to March. Females are highly fecund, and large individuals may produce more than 10 million small pelagic eggs annually. The eggs measure 0.6-0.9 mm. A single female barramundi weighing 22 kg contained about 17 million eggs. 

The eggs hatch within a day, at about 1.5 mm in length, with a a large yolk sac and well developed mouth and eyes. The larvae develop rapidly - at 2.5 mm the large mouth is open, the pectoral fins begin to develop and the yolk sac is greatly reduced. They then show the typical juvenile coloration being overall brown with mottling and white stripe along the top of the head. At 3.5 mm the larvae have well-developed teeth and the fin rays are beginning to appear. After 5 days the yolk sac has been completely absorbed, and the fins are fully developed by 8.5 mm.

Juvenile barramundi grow rapidly and move into mangroves or floodplain lagoons during their first year. They grow fastest during the summer wet season when water temperatures and freshwater flows are at their peak.


An extremely important commercial (wild caught) and recreational angling species in northern Australia. Barramundi are highly prized by anglers for their fighting abilities. It is an excellent table fish and is grown in aquaculture industries in many parts of the world, including Australia. Juvenile Barramundi are also a popular aquarium fish.


The specific name calcarifer in from Latin calcar (= spur) and fero (= to bear) in reference to the spines on the gill cover which, according to Bloch, 'resemble a spur'.

Species Citation

Holocentrus calcarifer Bloch 1790, J. Morino 4: 100 pl. 244. Type locality: Japan.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Barramundi, Lates calcarifer (Bloch 1790)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37310006


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:10-40 m

Fishing:Commercial, recreational, aquaculture, aquarium fish

Habitat:Freshwater, estuarine, coastal

Max Size:200 cm TL; 60 kg

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map