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Lethrinus mahsena (Fabricius, 1775)

Sky emperor
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Native range | All suitable habitat | Point map | Year 2050
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Lethrinus mahsena   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Image of Lethrinus mahsena (Sky emperor)
Lethrinus mahsena
Picture by Randall, J.E.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes(genus, species) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Teleostei (teleosts) > Eupercaria/misc (Various families in series Eupercaria) > Lethrinidae (Emperors or scavengers) > Lethrininae
Etymology: Lethrinus: Greek, lethrinia, a fish pertaining to genus Pagellus.

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Marine; reef-associated; non-migratory; depth range 2 - 100 m (Ref. 9710). Tropical; 28°N - 26°S, 32°E - 82°E

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Indian Ocean: Red Sea and East Africa to Sri Lanka. References to this species from the Central Pacific probably refer to Lethrinus atkinsoni.

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?, range 19 - ? cm
Max length : 65.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 2295); common length : 40.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 2295); max. reported age: 27 years (Ref. 42001)

Short description Identification keys | Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 10; Dorsal soft rays (total): 9; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 8. Body color is yellow to greenish-blue, becoming lighter ventrally; usually with nine or ten dusky yellow-green or brown bars. The head is purplish gray, sometimes with a red blotch on the nape. A red bar is at the base of pectoral fin, sometimes extending broadly below and above the pectoral fin base to the edge of the operculum. The base of the upper and sometimes lower rays of pectoral fin is red. The base and tips of the pelvic fins are often red. The membranes of the dorsal fin is red (sometimes restricted to the base of the fins). The anal fin is whitish with the membranes between the forward rays often red. The caudal fin, especially the tips is reddish.

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Found over reef areas and adjacent sandy and seagrass areas (Ref. 30573, 41878). Feeds mainly on echinoderms (most frequently sea urchins), crustaceans and fishes; mollusks, tunicates, sponges, polychaetes and other worms are consumed in lesser quantities. A protogynous hermaphrodite (Ref. 55367). In most areas of the Red Sea, it is considered an excellent food fish but in certain areas of the Indian Ocean it may have an unpleasant 'coral' smell and taste (Ref. 2295, 11888). Utilized fresh for broiling and baking (Ref. 9987).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturities | Reproduction | Spawnings | Egg(s) | Fecundities | Larvae

Sex change was found to commonly occur between the ages of 5 and 6 years (Ref. 2295). A diandric species (Ref. 55367). Length and age at sex change occur at 32 cm TL and 16 yrs, respectively (Ref. 55367).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Carpenter, K.E. and G.R. Allen, 1989. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 9. Emperor fishes and large-eye breams of the world (family Lethrinidae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of lethrinid species known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(9):118 p. Rome: FAO. (Ref. 2295)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 130435)

  Endangered (EN) (A2bd); Date assessed: 28 June 2018


Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans


Human uses

Fisheries: highly commercial; gamefish: yes
FAO - Fisheries: landings; Publication: search | FishSource | Sea Around Us

More information

Trophic ecology
Food items
Diet compositions
Food consumptions
Food rations
Population dynamics
Max. ages / sizes
Length-weight rel.
Length-length rel.
Mass conversions
Life cycle
Spawning aggregations
Egg developments
Larval dynamics
FAO areas
BRUVS - Videos
Gill areas
Body compositions
Oxygen consumptions
Swimming type
Swimming speeds
Visual pigment(s)
Fish sounds
Diseases / Parasites
Toxicities (LC50s)
Human related
Aquaculture systems
Aquaculture profiles
Ciguatera cases
Stamps, coins, misc.


Special reports

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Internet sources

AFORO (otoliths) | Aquatic Commons | BHL | Cloffa | BOLDSystems | Websites from users | Check FishWatcher | CISTI | Catalog of Fishes: genus, species | DiscoverLife | ECOTOX | FAO - Fisheries: landings; Publication: search | Faunafri | Fishipedia | Fishtrace | GenBank: genome, nucleotide | GloBI | Google Books | Google Scholar | Google | IGFA World Record | MitoFish | National databases | Otolith Atlas of Taiwan Fishes | PubMed | Reef Life Survey | Socotra Atlas | Tree of Life | Wikipedia: Go, Search | World Records Freshwater Fishing | Zoological Record

Estimates based on models

Preferred temperature (Ref. 123201): 25.4 - 29.2, mean 27.5 °C (based on 406 cells).
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82804):  PD50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01380 (0.00856 - 0.02227), b=3.01 (2.88 - 3.14), in cm total length, based on LWR estimates for this species & Genus-body shape (Ref. 93245).
Trophic level (Ref. 69278):  3.8   ±0.33 se; based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 120179):  Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.10-0.30; tm=3; tmax=27; Fec=26,700).
Prior r = 0.50, 95% CL = 0.33 - 0.75, Based on 3 data-limited stock assessments.
Fishing Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  High vulnerability (65 of 100).
Climate Vulnerability (Ref. 125649):  High to very high vulnerability (73 of 100).
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Very high.
Nutrients (Ref. 124155):  Calcium = 30.7 [21.0, 41.6] mg/100g; Iron = 0.709 [0.463, 0.998] mg/100g; Protein = 19.8 [17.3, 22.0] %; Omega3 = 0.118 [0.084, 0.162] g/100g; Selenium = 50.7 [25.2, 78.7] μg/100g; VitaminA = 33 [7, 181] μg/100g; Zinc = 2.28 [1.74, 2.84] mg/100g (wet weight); based on nutrient studies.