Sailfin Snapper, Symphorichthys spilurus (Günther 1874)

Other Names: Blue-lined Sea-bream, Blue-lined Sea-perch

A Sailfin Snapper, Symphorichthys spilurus, in the Musée Océanographique de Monaco. Source: Georges Jansoone / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC by Attribution

A deep-bodied tropical snapper with a yellowish body, blue stripes along the sides, a large pale-edged black spot on the upper tail base, an orange bar above the eye and another behind the head. The tall dorsal and anal fins often have one or more elongate filaments.

Juveniles are pale greyish with a broad white-edged black midlateral stripe from the snout to the end of the tail, and elongate yellowish filaments in the dorsal and anal fin.

A huge Sailfin Snapper (aka Sea Bream) spawning aggregation at Peleliu, Palau.

Video of a Sailfin Snapper in an aquarium.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Symphorichthys spilurus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 Jan 2020,

Sailfin Snapper, Symphorichthys spilurus (Günther 1874)

More Info


Recorded in Australia from the North West Shelf, NW of Dampier, Rowley Shoals and Scott Reef, Western Australia, and from Lizard Island to the Capricorn Group, Queensland; also at Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea. Found elsewhere in the tropical west Pacific.

Inhabits sandy areas adjacent to reefs in lagoons and on outer reefs.


Carnivore - feeds on fishes and benthic crustaceans and molluscs. 


Although usually solitary, small spawning aggregations of mature individuals are seen along seaward reefs.

Species Citation

Symphorus spilurus Günther, 1874, J. Mus. Godeffroy 2(7): 61. Type locality: Palau (as Pelew Islands).


Dianne J. Bray

Sailfin Snapper, Symphorichthys spilurus (Günther 1874)


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. & Russell, B.C. 1986. Part VII Fishes. 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, R. Steene, P. Humann & N. Deloach. 2003. Reef fish identification: Tropical Pacific. New World Publications Inc., Jacksonville, FL, USA.

Leis, J.M. & R. Fisher. 2006. Swimming speed of settlement-stage reef-fish larvae measured in the laboratory and in the field: a comparison of critical speed and in situ speed. Proceedings of the 10th International Coral Reef Symposium : 438-445.

Anderson, W.D., Jr. 1987. Systematics of the fishes of the family Lutjanidae (Perciformes: Percoidei), the snappers. pp. 1-31 in Polovina, J.J. & Ralston, S. (eds). Tropical Snappers and Groupers: Biology and Fisheries Management. Boulder : Westview Press Inc. 659 pp.
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.

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. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp.

Günther, A. 1874. Andrew Garrett's Fische der Südsee. Heft 3. Journal des Museum Godeffroy, Hamburg 2(7): 49-96 pls 41-60

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.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

Kuiter R.W. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Indonesian Reef Fishes. Part 3. Melbourne : Zoonetics pp. 623–893.

Leis, J.M. & Bray, D.J. 1995. Larval development in the lutjanid subfamily Paradicichthyinae (Pisces): the genera Symphorus and Symphorichthys. Bulletin of Marine Science 56(2): 418-433.

Munro, I.S.R. 1967. The Fishes of New Guinea. Port Moresby : Dept. Agric. Stock Fish. 651 pp. 23 figs 84 pls.

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.

Russell, B.C. 1983. Annotated checklist of the coral reef fishes in the Capricorn-Bunker group, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Special Publication Series 1: 1-184 figs 1-2

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37346052

Depth:5-60 m

Fishing:Minor commercial; aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:60 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map