Animal Species:Black Rockcod, Epinephelus daemelii (Günther, 1876)

The Black Rockcod is a common New South Wales species but is rarely seen due to its secretive nature usually found hiding in caves and under ledges. Found on coastal reefs, estuaries and deep offshore.

Standard Common Name

Black Rockcod

Alternative Name/s

The Black Rockcod has also been called the Saddled Rock-cod, Black Cod and Saddletail Grouper.


The Black Rockcod can be recognised by a combination of features. These include the presence of canine teeth at the front of both jaws, posterior nostrils larger than the anterior nostrils and a grey to black background colour.

The species has small black spots and bars that are dark dorsally but fade ventrally. In larger fish these bars are often faint.

Size range

The Black Rockcod grows to at least 1.55 m in length


It occurs in Australia, New Zealand and the Kermadec Islands.

In Australia it is known from coastal and offshore reefs and islands from southern Queensland to eastern Victoria. It is also known from Elizabeth Reef, Middleton Reef, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Epinephelus daemelii

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Black Rockcod specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?

Economic/social impacts

The territorial nature of the Black Rockcod makes it vulnerable to spearfishing and angling. Declining numbers resulted in the Black Rockcod being declared a vulnerable species in New South Wales waters in 1984. It is illegal to sell Black Rockcod in the state of New South Wales.



What does this mean?


  1. Harasti, D. & H. Malcolm. 2013. Distribution, relative abundance and size composition of the threatened serranid Epinephelus daemelii in New South Wales, Australia. Journal of Fish Biology. doi: 10.1111/jfb.12179.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  3. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  5. Pogonoski, J. 2005. Black Rockcod. Nature Australia. 28(6): 20-21.
  6. Pogonoski, J.J., Pollard, D.A. & J.R. Paxton. 2002. Conservation Overview and Action Plan for Australian Threatened and Potentially Threatened Marine and Estuarine Fishes. Environment Australia. Pp. 375.

Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fish, ichthyology, Black Rockcod, Epinephelus daemelii, reef, Serranidae, coastal reef, estuaries, deep offshore, Saddled Rock-cod, Black Cod, Saddletail Grouper, canine teeth, grey, black, black spots, > 1 m, saddle, marine, large,