Mulloway, Argyrosomus japonicus (Temminck & Schlegel 1844)

Other Names: Butterfish, Butter-fish, Japanese Meagre, Jew, Jewfish, Kingfish, River Kingfish, School Jew, Silver Jew, Silver Jewfish, Soapy, Southern Meagre

A school of Mulloway, Argyrosomus japonicus, at the Solitary Islands, New South Wales. Source: Rick Stuart-Smith / Reef Life Survey. License: CC BY Attribution

A large silvery to greenish-bronze fish with a moderately elongate body, a concave to pointed caudal fin, and pearly-white spots along the lateral line.

Video of a school of Mulloway at the Sand Pipe, Gold Coast Seaway, Queensland, Australia.
Video of a school of Mulloway 'hanging out'.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Argyrosomus japonicus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 May 2022,

Mulloway, Argyrosomus japonicus (Temminck & Schlegel 1844)

More Info


Known in Australia from the Burnett River, Queensland, to Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, and around Tasmania. Found elsewhere in South Africa and the north-west Pacific.

Small juveniles inhabit estuaries and inshore coastal waters. Adults and subadults are found along surf beaches, around rocky headlands and in deeper areas offshore. They also school in the lower parts of estuaries and around river mouths during flood periods.  


Carnivores - prey on a variety of fishes, crustaceans and squid. Juveniles feed mostly on crustaceans.


Mulloway spawn just outside of the surf zone, and the eggs and larvae are pelagic.


The common name Mulloway is an aboriginal word meaning ‘the greatest one’. Other common names such as jew, jewfish, silver jew, school jew, arose from the term 'jewel fish', referring to the Mulloway's very large otoliths or earbones that were collected for use as jewellery.

Species Citation

Sciaena japonica Temminck & Schlegel, 1844, Fauna Japonica 4(2–4): 58, pl. 24(1). Type locality: (Neotype) Meitsu, Nango-Cho, Miyazaki Prefecture, south-east coast of Kyushu, Japan (as vicinity of Nagasaki, Japan).


Bray, D.J. 2017

Mulloway, Argyrosomus japonicus (Temminck & Schlegel 1844)


Barnes, T.C., Junge, C., Myers, S.A., Taylor, MD., Rogers, P.J., Ferguson, G.J., Lieschke, J.A., Donnellan, S.C. & Gillanders, B.M. 2015. Population structure in a wide-ranging coastal teleost (Argyrosomus japonicus, Sciaenidae) reflects marine biogeography across southern Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 67: 1103-1113. Abstract

Edgar, G.J. 2000. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland 544 pp.

Ferguson, G.J., Ward, T.M. & Gillanders, B.M. 2011. Otolith shape and elemental composition: complimentary tools for stock discrimination of mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus) in southern Australia. Fisheries Research 110: 75–83.

Ferguson, G.J., Ward, T.M., Ivey, A. & Barnes, T. 2014. Life history of Argyrosomus japonicus, a large sciaenid at the southern part of its global distribution: implications for fisheries management. Fisheries Research 151: 148–157. 

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Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Emmelichthyidae, Gerreidae, Sparidae, Sciaenidae, Mullidae. pp. 585-592 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

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Taylor, M.D., Laffan, S.D., Fielder, D.S. & Suthers, I.M. 2006. Key habitat and home range of mulloway Argyrosomus japonicus in a south-east Australian estuary: finding the estuarine niche to optimise stocking. Marine Ecology Progress Series 328: 237–247.

Temminck, C.J. & Schlegel, H. 1844. Pisces. 21-72 pls 7A-36 in Siebold, P. Fr. de (ed.). Fauna Japonica. Leyden : Apud Arnz & Socios Vol. 4(2–4).

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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37354001

Depth:0-150 m

Fishing:Commercial, recreational fish

Habitat:Estuaries, rocky areas

Max Size:200 cm

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CAAB distribution map