Maori Snapper, Lutjanus rivulatus (Cuvier 1828)

Other Names: Blubberlip Snapper, Blue-spotted Seaperch, Blue-spotted Sea-perch, Maori Bream, Maori Sea Perch, Maori Seaperch, Maori Sea-perch, Multi-coloured Snapper, Scribbled Snapper, Speckled Snapper, Yellowfin Snapper

A Maori Snapper, Lutjanus rivulatus, on Mermaid Reef, Rowley Shoals, Western Australia, October 2020. Source: Alex Hoschke / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A brownish to reddish-brown tropical snapper with yellow outer dorsal, anal and caudal fins, many undulating blue lines on the head, fine blue dashes and spots on the body, and an indistinct dark bar above the pectoral-fin base that fades with growth. Juveniles have a series of 3-8 brown bars on sides, a whitish spot with a broad blackish margin on the side below the anterior soft dorsal-fin rays, preceded by similar-sized black spot on middle of side.

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Lutjanus rivulatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Jun 2024,

Maori Snapper, Lutjanus rivulatus (Cuvier 1828)

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Port Hedland, and offshore reefs of Western Australia, and Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, to northern New South Wales; also reefs in the Coral Sea, and Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species occurs in the Indo-west-central Pacific.
Inhabits reefs and shallow inshore reef flats.


Dorsal fin X,15-16; Anal fin III,8; Gill rakers 6 + (11-12) =17-18. 
Body very deep, greatest depth 2.1-2.4 in SL; lips greatly thickened in adults; preopercular notch and knob moderately developed; vomerine tooth patch crescentic, without a medial posterior extension; tongue smooth, no teeth; caudal fin truncate or slightly emarginate.


Feed on fishes, cephalopod molluscs and benthic crustaceans.


Forms part of mixed-species commercial fisheries and by recreational fishers throughout its range. The species also occurs in the live reef-fish trade and commercial aquaculture industry. The Maori Snapper is considered to be an excellent food fish.


The specific name is from the Latin rivulatus (= marked by irregular streaks, rivulated) in reference to the many undulating blue lines on the head.

Species Citation

Diacope rivulata Cuvier, in Cuvier & Valenciennes 1828, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 2: 414. Type locality: Malabar & Pondicherry, India, Java, Indonesia, Red Sea.


Atlas of Living Australia

Maori Snapper, Lutjanus rivulatus (Cuvier 1828)


Akazaki, M. 1983. A new Lutjanid fish, Lutjanus stellatus, from Southern Japan and a related species, L. rivulatus. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 29(4): 365-373.

Allen, G.R. 1985. FAO Species Catalogue. Snappers of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of lutjanid species known to date. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125, Vol. 6. Rome : FAO 208 pp. 

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. 

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

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Talbot, F.H. 1985. Review of the snappers of the genus Lutjanus (Pisces: Lutjanidae) from the Indo-Pacific, with the description of a new species. Indo-Pacific Fishes 11: 1-87 

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

Anderson, W.D. & Allen, G.R. 2001. Lutjanidae. pp. 2840-2918 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. 

Cuvier, G.L. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1828. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 2 xxi, 2 + 490 pp., pls 9-40. See ref at BHL

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. 

Hobbs, J-P.A., Newman, S.J., Mitsopoulos, G.E.A., Travers, M.J., Skepper, C.L., Gilligan, J.J., Allen, G.R., Choat, H.J. & Ayling, A.M. 2014. Checklist and new records of Christmas Island fishes: the influence of isolation, biogeography and habitat availability on species abundance and community composition. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 184–202

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 

Kuiter, R.H. 1992. Tropical Reef-Fishes of the Western Pacific, Indonesia and Adjacent Waters. Jakarta : PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama 314 pp. pls. 

Lau, P.P.F. & Li, L.W.H. 2000. Identification Guide to Fishes in the Live Seafood Trade of the Asia-Pacific Region. WWF Hong Kong and Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. Hong Kong. 137 pp.  

Lee, C. & Sadovy, Y. 1998. A taste for live fish: Hong Kong’s Live Reef Fish Market. Naga (The ICLARM Quarterly) April-June, 1998: 38-42

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. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs. 

Russell, B., Lawrence, A., Myers, R., Carpenter, K.E. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 2016. Lutjanus rivulatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T194356A2320019. Downloaded on 19 September 2018.

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.

Wakefield, C.B.,  Coulson, P.G., Loudon, L. & Newman, S.J. 2020. Latitudinal and sex-specific differences in growth and an exceptional longevity for the Maori snapper Lutjanus rivulatus from north-western Australia. Fisheries Research 230: 105634. 

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37346016

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-100 m

Fishing:Commercial, recreational fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:80 cm TL

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