Common coral trout are fast growing and are 2-3 years old on average at legal retainable size of 38cm.

Interesting facts on coral trout

Coral trout fishers provide some of the freshest sustainably harvested seafood to Queenslanders. The firm pearly white flesh is considered to be the finest eating of all of our reef fish.

Interesting facts:

  • Don’t be fooled by the name – they’re not a trout at all, they’re actually a member of the grouper and cod family
  • They’re ambush predators that lurk in the shady overhangs and crevices of the reef
  • They employ a camouflage strategy, with red more suited to the duller light conditions of deeper waters, though in the absence of the red wavelengths of light at depth, the fish appear olive brown in colour – ideal for lurking in the shadows
  • A coral trout begins life as a female before changing sex to become a male – sex change in reef fish species is quite common and involves hormonal rather than physical changes, allowing populations to optimise the female male ratio and maximising reproductive output
  • Common coral trout are fast growing and are 2-3 years old on average at legal retainable size of 38cm – the oldest we’ve aged was 20 and had a fork length of 51cm, though they can grow to more than 5kg and about 66cm
  • Economically, common coral trout are one of our most valuable fish species and are exported alive to other parts of the world, including China and the US
  • At the beginning of 2022, the common coral trout stock level was estimated to be 60 percent of unfished spawning biomass – a great result.
Fishery monitoring staff collect common coral trout for measuring at a holding facility in Cairns.


Continued and consistent collection of biological data such as length, sex and age across all harvest regions in Queensland gives us a better picture of the fishery as a whole. This helps drive more accurate stock assessments and helps to maximise the catch that can be taken sustainably. Visit

Well done to all fishers for helping to ensure this species is in great shape for future generations to enjoy!

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