Animal Species:Gemfish, Rexea solandri (Cuvier, 1832)

The Gemfish is an excellent food fish that was the target of an important but increasingly over-exploited fishery in south-eastern Australia during the late 1970s and 1980s. Since 1993, only bycatch has been allowed.

A Gemfish caught off Brunswick Heads

A Gemfish caught off Brunswick Heads
Photographer: Ian Cameron © Ian Cameron

Standard Common Name


Alternative Name/s

Barraconda, Common Gemfish, Deepsea Kingfish, Hake, King Barracouta, King Couta, Silver Gemfish, Silver Kingfish, Southern Kingfish


The Gemfish has a moderately elongate compressed body. It has two dorsal fins followed by two separate finlets. The pelvic fin comprises a tiny spine and two of three rays.

The mouth is relatively large reaching to under the front of the eyes. There are large fang-like teeth at the front of the jaws, which are followed by a row of smaller compressed teeth.

The lateral line is forked, with one branch running along the upper sides of the body and the second branch diverging downward below the fifth dorsal fin spine, then running along the side of the body.

The species is iridescent bluish above and silver below. There is a dark mark distally on the fin membrane between the first three dorsal fin spines.

Size range

The species grows to about 1.2 m in length and a weight of 15 kg.


This species occurs in temperate marine waters of Australia and New Zealand. In Australia it is known from off southern Queensland, around the south of the country and north to the central coast of Western Australia.

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.

Rexea solandri

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Gemfish specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?


The species has been caught at depths between 100 m and 800 m.

Economic/social impacts

The Gemfish is an excellent food fish that was the target of an important but increasingly over-exploited fishery in south-eastern Australia during the late 1970s and 1980s. In 1993 the targeted fishery was closed based on the results of scientific research, which showed declining catch rates and a significant decline in the average size of fish in the mature population. Since then only bycatch has been allowed.



What does this mean?


  1. Gomon, M.F. 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.
  2. Colgan, D.J. & J.R. Paxton. 1997. Biochemical genetics and recognition of a western stock of the common gemfish, Rexea solandri (Scombroidea: Gempylidae), in Australia. 48(2): Marine and Freshwater Research. 48(2): 103-118, 5 figs.
  3. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  4. Parin, N.V. & J.R. Paxton. 1990. Know your catch, Australia's east coast gemfish. Australian Fisheries, 49(5): suppl. 5pp.
  5. 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. Canberra: Environment Australia. Pp. 375.
  6. Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & R.D. Ward. 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook, an identification guide to domestic species. CSIRO Marine Research. Pp. 461.

Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags Fishes, Ichthyology, Gemfish, Rexea solandri, Gempylidae, silver, brown, long and skinny, > 1 m, blotches/mottled, marine, adult,