Yellowtail Barracuda, Sphyraena flavicauda Rüppell 1838

Other Names: Shortjawed Barracuda, Short-jawed Sea-pike, Yellow-tail Barracuda
Silvery-green to yellowish above becoming silver on the side, with a pair of brown stripes, a yellowish caudal fin, and often a row of short bars along the upper side.

While Doiuchi & T. Nakabo (2005) considered Sphyraena flavicauda to be a synonym of S. obtusata, other workers consider S. flavicauda to be a valid species.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Sphyraena flavicauda in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024,

Yellowtail Barracuda, Sphyraena flavicauda Rüppell 1838

More Info


The precise distribution of S. flavicauda in Australian waters is unknown due to its confusion with Sphyraena obtusata. The species occurs at the Australian territories of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean.
Elsewhere the species is widespread in  that Red Sea and Indo-west Pacific: East Africa to the East Indies, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Samoa, north to southern Japan, south to northern Australia, New Caledonia (and an immigrant to the Mediterranean Sea).
Inhabits coastal and offshore reefs at depths to 25 m.


Dorsal fin V + I,9: Anal fin II,9; Pectoral fin 14; Lateral-line scales 72-90; Gill rakers 2.
Body depth 6.8-8.3 in SL.
Eye large, teeth erect, each separated by a space about equal to tooth width; corner of preopercle with prominent membranous flap; maxilla reaching to within half eye diameter of front edge of eye; first dorsal-fin origin about level with pectoral-fin tip; caudal fin forked.

Similar Species

The similar Sphyraena obtusata differs in having the spinous dorsal fin slightly greater in height that the soft dorsal fin (vs. dorsal fins about equal in height in S. flavicauda), and S. obtusata has a slightly shorter pectoral fin.


The specific name flavicauda is from the Latin flavus (= yellow) and cauda (= tail), in reference to the yellow caudal fin (with a black margin) of this species.

Species Citation

Sphyraena flavicauda Rüppell 1838, Fische des Rothen Meeres Vol. 4: 100, pl. 25(3). Type locality: Massawa, Red Sea.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Yellowtail Barracuda, Sphyraena flavicauda Rüppell 1838


Allen, G.R. 2000. Fishes of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 59: 83-95

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

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

Allen, G.R. & Steene, R.C. 1988. Fishes of Christmas Island Indian Ocean. Christmas Island Natural History Association, Christmas Island, Indian Ocean, 6798, Australia. 197 pp.

Blaber, S.J.M., Young, J.W. & Dunning, M.C. 1985. Community structure and zoogeographic affinities of the coastal fishes of the Dampier region of north-western Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 36: 247-266.

de Sylva, D.P. 1973. Barracudas (Pisces : Sphyraenidae) of the Indian Ocean and adjacent seas — a preliminary review of their systematics and ecology. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India 15(1): 74-94 figs 1-4

Doiuchi, R. & T. Nakabo, T. 2005. The Sphyraena obtusata group (Perciformes: Sphyraenidae) with a description of a new species from southern Japan. Ichthyological Research 52(2): 132-151 (as a synonym of Sphyraena obtusata)

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.

Hutchins, J.B. 2003. Checklist of marine fishes of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. pp. 453-478 in Wells, F.E., Walker, D.I., & Jones, D.S. (eds). Proceedings of the Eleventh International Marine Biological Workshop: The Marine Flora and Fauna of Dampier, Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum.

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762.

Johnson, J.W. & Gill, A.C. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of Sweers Island, Gulf of Carpentaria. Gulf of Carpentaria Scientific Study Report. Geography Monograph Series. Brisbane: Royal Geographic Society of Queensland. pp. 239-260.

Kuiter, R.H. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 3. Jawfishes - Sunfishes, Opistognathidae - Molidae. Seaford, Australia : Zoonetics, pp. 623-893.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R.C. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Honolulu, Hawaii : University of Hawaii Press, 506 pp. 

Rüppell, W.P.E. 1838. Neue Wirbelthiere zu der Fauna von Abyssinien gehörig. Fische des Rothen Meeres. Frankfurt Vol. 4, pp. 81–148, pls 22–33.

Russell, B.C., Larson, H.K., Hutchins, J.B. & Allen, G.R. 2005. Reef fishes of the Sahul Shelf. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory Supplement 1 2005: 83-105.

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1984. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls.

Quick Facts

Depth:1-25 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:40 cm TL

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map