Animal Species:Eastern Blue Groper, Achoerodus viridis (Steindachner, 1866)

Despite the name, the Eastern Blue Groper is not a groupers, but a wrasse. It lives in shallow coastal waters and is regularly seen around exposed reefs.

Standard Common Name

Eastern Blue Groper


This stout bodied species has peg-like teeth, heavy scales, a large tail and thick lips. Juveniles are brown to green brown. Adult females are brown to reddish-brown. Each scale may have a darker red spot. Adult males are bright blue, hence the common name. The blue can range from deep navy to cobalt blue, and there may also be darker or yellow-orange spots or lines around the eyes.

Size range

This species grows to 1.2 m in length.


The Eastern Blue Groper is endemic to Australia. It is found in coastal, marine waters from southern Queensland to Wilson's Promontory, Victoria. It is particularly well known to scuba divers in New South Wales and was made the fish emblem for New South Wales in 1996.

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

Achoerodus viridis

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Eastern Blue Groper specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?


Adults are found in a wide range of habitats from shallow waters, down to 40 m. Juveniles are usually found in estuarine seagrass beds.

Feeding and Diet

 It is a carnivorous species. The video, below, shows an Eastern Blue Groper biting a sea urchin.

Life cycle

Adults are found on rocky coastal reefs, they spawn during the winter (July-October) and the young recruit primarily into estuarine sea grass beds during winter (Gillanders, 1999). A full description of the Larval Eastern Blue Groper.

Mating and reproduction

Like most wrasses, as the Eastern Blue Groper ages, it passes through several stages. Juveniles are all female. As the fish matures, it goes through an initial phase (IP) during which the fish could be either male or female. Adult females are reddish brown. Adult males develop bright blue colouration. These fish have reached the terminal phase (TP).

Conservation Status

The Eastern Blue Groper is particularly susceptible to spearfishing and in the past was taken in large numbers by spearfishers. As a result, the species was given total protection status in New South Wales waters in 1969. In 1974, angling and commercial fishing were allowed again, but spearfishing was still prohibited. In 1975, concern over the large catches by commercial fishers led to a ban on bottom-set gill nets. Blue Groper was banned from sale in 1980.

Danger to humans and first aid

The species presents no danger to humans.



What does this mean?

Further Reading

  1. Gomon, M.F & B.C. Russell in Gomon, M.F, J.C.M. Glover & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  2. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.

Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Last Updated:

Tags Eastern Blue Groper, Achoerodus viridis, Labridae, fishes, ichthyology, blue, grey, 'normal fish', > 1 m, no pattern, dots or spots, kelp/algae/seagrass, rocky reef, marine, adult, big lips, peg teeth,


Mark McGrouther - 12.07 PM, 19 July 2010

Hi bump73, Thanks for submitting the photo.  It's great to be able to show an image of an Eastern Blue Groper from estuarine waters.  As you know the species occurs primarily in marine waters, but it certainly does make its way into bays and harbours.  I remember surveying fishes well up into Sydney Harbour in 2000 and we also caught Eastern Blue Gropers.  The current silly photo (to the left) shows me holding a leatherjacket caught during the 2000 survey.

bump73 - 6.07 PM, 17 July 2010
Hi there just thought i'd let you guys know that i caught (and released) a female groper at Gladesville on the Parramatta River. Quite a long way from the coast where i thought they normally reside. Have attatched an image of it prior to being released

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Mark McGrouther - 8.05 AM, 27 May 2010

Thanks for submitting the photo Matt!  It's a great shot that really nicely shows the peg-like teeth, fleshy lips and orange lines and 'scribbling' below the eye.  I love the fact that divers and snorkelers in different regions 'adopt' Eastern Blue Gropers, the one at Fly Point being George.  The local fish become very popular and people expect to interact with them when they visit the dive site.  Another famous 'celebrity fish' was Bluey, who lived in Clovelly 'pool' for many years.  For those of you who aren't familiar with New South Wales geography, Fly point is located at Port Stephens, about 160 km north of Sydney.  Thanks again Matt.

MattD - 7.05 PM, 26 May 2010
Here is a photo of George the Groper from Fly Point.

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