Coral Trout are a species of rockcods that are found on coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Great Barrier Reef. They are known for their beautiful and striking coloration, which can vary depending on the fish's age and sex.
Don’t be fooled by the name however, the Coral trout is not a trout at all. These fish are actually a member of the Grouper and Cod family possessing a large mouth and sharp conical teeth.
Coral Trout are generally pinky/red in colour with a dense scattering of electric blue spots, though individuals from shallow waters are more likely to be Olive/Brown in colour.
Some common colorations of coral trout are:
- Plectropomus leopardus (Common Coral Trout): generally pinky/red in colour with a dense scattering of electric blue spots
- Plectropomus laevis (Bluespotted Coral Trout/Footballer Trout): has 2 distinct colour phases: the "footballer phase" which is whitish with black saddles & yellow fins, and a greyish form with dark head & back saddles with small blue spots on the body.
- Variola louti (Coronation Trout): usually reddish with numerous small bluish to pinkish spots on the head, body and fins.
- Plectropomus oligacanthus (Vermicular Cod): Pink to deep red colour with blue or purple fins and wavy bands across the head and body, forming dots ventrally
- Plectropomus maculatus (Barcheek Coral Trout): The distinguishing feature of the Barcheek is the elongated blue spots on the head compared with Coral Trout where these spots are round.
- Plectropomus areolatus (Passionfruit Coral Trout): whitish to pale grey coral trout covered in small, dark-edged bright blue spots, often with 4-5 dark saddles along the back.
Coral trout begins life as a female before changing sex at 4 to 6 years of age to become a male. Sex change in reef fish species is quite common and involves hormonal rather than physical changes. This strategy allows populations to optimize the female/male ratio maximizing reproductive output.
Coral trout are an ambush predator, lurking in the shady over hangs and crevices of the reef employing an explosive rush to capture prey.
The firm pearly white flesh is considered to be the finest eating of all of our reef fish. Enjoy respectfully!