Gemfish, Rexea solandri (Cuvier 1832)

Other Names: Barraconda, Common Gemfish, Deepsea Kingfish, Eastern Gemfish, Hake, King Barracouta, King Couta, Kingfish, Silver Gemfish, Silver Kingfish, Southern Kingfish, Tasmanian Kingfish

A Gemfish, Rexea solandri, from the Tasman Sea. Source: NORFANZ Founding Parties. License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


A gempylid with an iridescent bluish back becoming silver below, with a large black blotch on the front of the dorsal fin, and orange second dorsal, anal and caudal fins. Gemfish have a forked lateral line, with the upper branch running along the back to below the second dorsal fin, and the lower branch diverging downward below the first dorsal fin and running in a wavy line along the side to the tail base.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Schultz, S. 2024, Rexea solandri in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Jul 2024,

Gemfish, Rexea solandri (Cuvier 1832)

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Off southern Queensland, to off Point Cloates, Western Australia, and Tasmania; absent from Bass Strait. Elsewhere the species occurs in New Zealand. An oceanic benthopelagic schooling species in depths of 100 to 800 m. Juveniles are pelagic.


Dorsal fin XVII-XVIII, 0, I, 16-19; Anal fin II, 13-16; Pectoral fin 13-15; Pelvic fin I, 5.

Body long, slender, compressed, depth 5-6 times in standard length. Head length 3.1-3.9 times in standard length. Lower jaw protruding, dermal processes absent from jaws. Upper jaw with 3-4 pairs of rigid teeth, and 0-3 pairs of depressible fang-like teeth; lower jaw with a single pair of fang-like teeth; palatine teeth present. 

Lateral line in two parts, bifurcating below the 5th to 6th spine of the first dorsal fin; upper lateral line extending beyond the second dorsal-fin origin and terminating below 8th to 12th soft ray; the lower lateral line is midlateral, undulating above the anal fin base, terminating at the caudal peduncle. the second dorsal and anal fins are followed by two finlets. Scales present in specimens over 25 cm in length.


To at least 110 cm and 10 kg. A 13 year old fish is around 104 cm in length.



Feeds mostly on fishes such as macrourids (whiptails or grenadiers) and Deepwater Cardinalfish (Apogonops anomalus), as well as on squid and prawns.


Males and females in the eastern Gemfish population mature at different ages. Males attain maturity at 3-5 years of age, reach a length of about 106 cm and can live for 13 years. Females mature between 4 and 6 years of age, grow to about 116 cm and can live up to 17 years of age.

In southeastern Australia spawning schools migrate each winter from Tasmanian waters to off the NSW and southern Qld coasts.

Both eggs and larvae are pelagic, with the larvae being around 2.9 mm in length at hatching.


 In Australian waters, the eastern and western populations of this species are genetically distinct. During the late 1970s and 1980s, this excellent food fish was the target of an important commercially fishery in south-eastern Australia. The eastern Gemfish population was heavily overfished, leading to substantial and rapid decline in catch rates and a decline in size at maturity of eastern gemfish since the 1970's. This fishery was closed in 1993, although eastern Gemfish by-catch can be retained. This genetically distinct population was listed as conservation dependent under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

In the 1970's and 1980's, the small recreational fishery and the large commercial fishery targeted the annual pre-spawning migration of eastern gemfish along the NSW coast in winter. After peaking at 5,000 tonnes in 1980, the commercial rates significantly and rapidly declined. Along with the decline in catch rates, this heavy targeting of the breeding stock also resulted in a steady decline in size at maturity individuals within this population. The fishery is now a by-catch fishery of juveniles and sub-adults in the trawl sector and mature fish in the dropline sector and is tightly regulated. The majority of the catch is taken north of 40°S latitude.


Australian Government Legislation: The eastern Gemfish population is listed as conservation dependent under the EPBC Act 1999.

State Government Legislation: In January 2008, the NSW Government Fisheries Scientific Committee determined that Rexea solandri - Gemfish is not facing a very high or high risk of extinction in New South Wales in the near future, and was therefore not eligible to be listed as an endangered species.


Although the New Zealand population is genetically similar to that found in eastern Australia, there is limited migration across the Tasman Sea. As a result, there is little gene flow between the New Zealand and Australian populations.


The species is named in honour of Swedish naturalist Daniel Solander, who initially described this species as “Scomber macrophthalmus” in an unpublished manuscript.

Species Citation

Gempylus solandri Cuvier 1832, Historie naturelle des poissons 8: 215. Type locality: Bay of Islands, New Zealand.


Bray, D.J. & Schultz, S. 2024


Atlas of Living Australia

Gemfish, Rexea solandri (Cuvier 1832)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37439002

Conservation:ASFB Vulnerable

Conservation:EPBC Act Conservation Dependent (eastern Population)

Depth:100-800 m

Fishing:Commercial fish

Max Size:120 cm

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CAAB distribution map