Australian Snapper: Cockney Bream, Old Man Snapper or Pink Snapper

Australian Snapper: Cockney Bream, Old Man Snapper or Pink Snapper

Australian Snapper is a popular angling species, they are regarded as an excellent table fish.

Scientific Name: Australasian Snapper – Pagrus Auratus, Queen Snapper – Nemadactylus Valenciennesi, Nannygai – Red Snapper – Centroberyx.

Australian Snapper Alternate Common Names;

Cockney, Cockney Bream, Eastern Snapper, Nobblers, Old Man, Old Man Red Snapper, Old Man Snapper, Pink Snapper, Pinkie, Pinkies, Queen, Red Bream, Reddie, Ruggers, Schnapper, Silver Seabream, Squire, Tamure, Western Snapper and White Snapper.

Family Classification: Sparidae – Porgies

Despite their name Australian Snapper, Pink Snapper are actually members of the sea bream family Sparidae and are related to species such as Black Bream. Acanthopagrus Butcheri and Tarwhine or Silver Bream – Rhabdosargus Sarba rather than the true snapper family – Lutjanidae.

They also have an interesting life history more so the females around the age of two and a half. The population changes and becomes male, and the remainder becomes female. They become sexually mature when they reach about 25 cm in length. A Large adult can be up to 75 cm long and a small percentage of the males will turn into females at puberty.

On reaching adulthood, all snapper develop fleshy bumps on the forehead, while the males grow bumps on their noses. Why they do this is unknown, though males have been observed nudging females with their snouts at breeding time. Perhaps to encourage egg release. They are quite slow growing, a snapper at the maximum size of 1.3 m long and 20 kg is more likely 50 years old.

Fertilised eggs may drift for two days before hatching, and like the free-swimming larvae, are affected by currents. Adults migrate inshore to spawn and some larvae will settle as juveniles in sheltered embankments. As with most fish, very few eggs or larvae survive to become adults.

Identification Characteristics:

Colouration varies from rosy pink to red brown with pinkish fins, bright blue spots on body less distinct with age. A background colour of pinkish silver to red/brown, upper sides have numerous small bright blue spots especially prominent in juveniles; fins are red or faint red caudal fin has white lower margin. Large fish may have a large bony hump on the head and a fleshy bulge on the snout.

Characteristic double shake of the head before each run. The fish tend to run hard and deep when hooked heading for the cover of the reef. In deep water, the fish can provide a tough fight.

Australian Snapper Habitat:

Demersal fish; freshwater; brackish; marine; depth range 1 – 200 meters, the subtropical climate; 60°N – 14°N, 26°W – 36°E.

The fish spawn in inshore waters and live in rocky areas and reefs  They school, and will migrate between reefs. Larger fish are known to enter estuaries and harbours, along with the south coast.

For example Kiama, Berry, Gerringong, Gerroa, Huskisson, Vincentia, Shoalhaven and Port Phillip Bay. Even found on the coast of Tasmania but in smaller numbers.

Snapper is carnivores and spends most time swimming close to the sea bed. They eat a widely varied diet, including fish, crustaceans, worms, molluscs and jellyfish. Though snapper is near the top of the food chain. They are prey for large fish like estuary cod, dolphins and sharks. A female snapper may spawn a million eggs per season, released in batches during the spawning season. Colder Southern waters, snapper usually spawn in late spring and summer. While those living in warmer northern waters spawn in winter. Snapper examined in a study found 99 different types of food in the stomach, crabs, worms, echinoderms, shellfish and fish.


Crab, Worms, Fish flesh, Garfish, Mussel, Octopus, Pilchard, Pippi, Prawn, Slimy Mackerel (blue), Squid, Tuna.


Snapper is aggressive feeders and can be taken on a wide variety of terminal rigs. They even bite trolled lures intended for kahawai and kingfish. The best rigs for snapper are the stray line Australian & New Zealand versions, and dropper rigs. Flasher rigs also work well, at anchor but particularly on the drift over sandy areas. Soft baits/soft plastics are proving phenomenally effective on snapper.


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