Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


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CAAB: 37353001

Species Chrysophrys auratus (Forster, 1801)

Snapper, Cockney, Cockney Bream, Eastern Snapper, Nobblers, Old Man, Old Man Red Snapper, Old Man Snapper, Pink Snapper, Pinkie, Pinkies, Queen, Red Bream, Reddie, Ruggers, Schnapper, Silver Seabream, Squire, Tamure, Western Snapper, White Snapper


Generic Combinations



The generic placement of this species has been in dispute for many years. The species was placed in genus Chrysophrys until Paulin (1990) regarded the genus as a synonym of the Atlantic genus Pagrus. Gomon (1994, 2008) continued to use Chrysophrys, while specialists on the group followed Paulin (Carpenter 2001). Molecular work (Day 2002; Orrelll et al. 2002; Orrell & Carpenter 2004; Chiba et al. 2009) has questioned the monophyly of the subfamilies and genera within the family, including Pagrus. Mitochondrial DNA suggested more similarity between Pagrus auratus and Evynnis from Japan and Argyrops. However, many of these studies have not agreed with morphological classifications based on dentition. Leis et al. provided evidence for recognising Chrysophrys as distinct from Pagrus. Dr. Yukio Iwatsuki of Miyazaki University in Japan is soon to publish information confirming that the two genera should be separate (Leis et al. 2014), with Pagrus confined to the Atlantic Ocean. Consequently we revert to the older name Chrysophrys auratus for the Australian species.

Authors have also disputed how widely distributed this species is. Paulin (1990) and Carpenter (2001) regarded Pagrus major from the north-west Pacific as a junior synonym. Workers from Japan and China have treated Pagrus major as a distinct species. Tabata & Taniguchi (2000) found genetic differences between the two forms and recommended recognising the two groups as subspecies. We accept here the separation of the two forms as distinct species.

There is a major fishery for this species in Australia and New Zealand.




New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia

Extra Distribution Information

Townsville, QLD (19°11'S) to Cape Cuvier, WA (24°10'S) and Bass Strait, TAS, also Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island; subtropical, temperate, south-west Pacific (New Zealand).

IBRA and IMCRA regions (map not available)


Lord Howe Province (14), Norfolk Island Province (21), Central Western Shelf Province (29), Southwest Shelf Transition (30), Southwest Shelf Province (31), Great Australian Bight Shelf Transition (32), Spencer Gulf Shelf Province (33), Western Bass Strait Shelf Transition (34), Bass Strait Shelf Province (35), Tasmanian Shelf Province (36), Southeast Shelf Transition (37), Central Eastern Shelf Province (38), Central Eastern Shelf Transition (39), Northeast Shelf Province (40)

Distribution References

Ecological Descriptors

Continental shelf, marine, rubble bottom, soft bottom.


General References

AFMA 2010. Norfolk Island Inshore Fishery Data Summary 2006-2009. Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra. 20 pp. [14]

Allan, R. 2002. Australian Fish and How to Catch Them. Sydney : New Holland Publishers (Australia) 394 pp. [310] (as Chrysophrys auratus)

Bray, D.J., Hoese, D.F. & Paxton, J.R. 2006. Family Sparidae. pp. 1225-1230 in Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & Allen, G.R. Fishes. In, Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 35. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3, 2178 pp. [1229] (as Pagrus auratus)

Carpenter, K.E. 2001. Sparidae, Lethrinidae. pp. 2990-3050 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. [3002]

Chiba, S.N., Iwatsuki Y., Yoshino T. & Hanzawa, N. 2009. Comprehensive phylogeny of the family Sparidae (Perciformes: Teleostei) inferred from mitochondrial gene analyses. Genes and Genetic Systems 84(2): 153-170

Day, J.J. 2002. Phylogenetic relationships of the Sparidae (Teleostei: Percoidei) and implications for convergent trophic evolution. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society of London 76(2): 269–301

Edgar, G.J. 2008. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Sydney : Reed New Holland 2nd edn, 624 pp. [515]

Gomon, M.F 1994. Family Sparidae. pp. 599-602, figs 530-531 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. [601] (as Chrysophrys auratus)

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. [589] (as Chrysophrys auratus)

Henry, G. & Gillanders, B. 1999. Snapper & Yellowtail Kingfish. pp. 158-163 in Andrew, N. (ed.). Under Southern Seas -— The ecology of Australia's rocky reefs. Sydney : University of New South Wales Press 238 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp. [62, 131] (as Chrysophrys auratus)

Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs. [38, 80] (as Chrysophrys auratus)

Kailola, P.J., Williams, M.J., Stewart, P.C., Reichelt, R.E., McNee, A. & Grieve, C. 1993. Australian Fisheries Resources. Canberra : Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation 422 pp. [315]

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp. [193] (as Chrysophrys auratus)

Leis, J.M., Gomon, M.F. & Hoese, D.F. 2014. The scientific name for snapper. Australian Society for Fish Biology Newsletter 43(2): 7-9

Leis, J.M., Trnski, T. & Beckley, L.E. 2002. Larval development of Pagellus natalensis and what larval morphology indicates about relationships in the perciform fish family Sparidae (Teleostei). Marine and Freshwater Research 53: 367–376

Orrell, T.M., Carpenter, K.E., Musick, J.A. & Graves, J.E. 2002. Phylogenetic and biogeographic analysis of the Sparidae (Perciformes: Percoidei) from cytochrome b sequences. Copeia 2002(3): 618-631

Orrell, T.M. & Carpenter, K.E. 2004. A phylogeny of the fish family Sparidae (porgies) inferred from mitochondrial sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32: 425-434

Paulin, C. 1990. Pagrus auratus, a new combination for the species known as "snapper" in Australasian waters (Pisces: Sparidae). New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 24: 259-265 [260]

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. [195]

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. [195]

Roughley, T.C. 1957. Fish and Fisheries of Australia. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 341 pp. [76] (as Chrysophrys guttulatus)

Scott, T.D., Glover, C.J.M. & Southcott, R.V. 1974. The Marine and Freshwater Fishes of South Australia. Adelaide : Government Printer 392 pp. figs. [219] (as Chrysophrys unicolor)

Tabata, K. & Taniguchi, N. 2000. Differences between Pagrus major and Pagrus auratus through mainly mtDNA control region analysis. Fisheries Science 66(1): 9–18

Whitley, G.P. 1931. New names for Australian fishes. The Australian Zoologist 6(4): 310-334 1 fig. pls 25-27 [319] (type information)

Whitley, G.P. 1964. A survey of Australian Ichthyology. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 89(1): 11-127 [46] (1252, as Chrysophrys unicolor and 1253, as Chrysophrys guttulatus)


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
18-Dec-2014 SPARIDAE 21-Oct-2021 MODIFIED Dr Doug Hoese
14-Dec-2012 14-Dec-2012 MODIFIED
30-Mar-2010 MODIFIED