Lethrinus mahsena   (Forsskal,  1775) (Fish)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Actinopterygii

Image copyrights: Mya Than Tun

Size: 21-65 cm.

Color: Olive-grey to green above becoming whitish below with a tinge of pink anteriorly on the belly. The head is brownish green with bronze reflections on the sides. The caudal fin and sometimes the hind part of the body are yellow while the dorsal and anal fins are reddish.

It is a moderately elongate , robust fish. Its snout is blunt. The terminal mouth is surrounded by fleshy lips. The fins include a single dorsal with 10 spines and 9 soft rays, an anal of 3 spines and 8 rays, and a forked caudal. The scales along the lateral line are arranged in 43-48 series. The anal fin is whitish with the membranes between the forward rays often red. The caudal fin, especially the tips is reddish. Dorsal profile arched and somewhat keeled on nape. Height 2.5-2.8, 3-3.4 in length with caudal. Head 2.8-2.9, 3.5-3.6 in length with caudal. Eye 3.5-4.4, equal to somewhat convex inter orbital space and 1.8-2 in snout. Mouth slightly oblique, jaws sub equal. Maxillary reaching to vertical between anterior and posterior nostril. Canines strong, curved, anterior lateral teeth pointed, posterior ones flat molars. Dorsal spines moderate, fourth and fifth longest, equal to distance between hind border of eye and anterior nostril, equal to longest soft dorsal rays. Origin of anal above last dorsal spine, separated by 15 scales from lateral line. Third anal spine somewhat longer than second, which is as long as eye. Longest soft anal rays equal to third anal spine in length, much less than length of base of soft part of anal. Pectorals pointed, about one half eye diameter less than length of head. Ventrals much shorter, somewhat more than snout and eye. Caudal moderately incised. Least height of caudal peduncle 1.5 in its length. Dorsal spines (total): 10-10; dorsal soft rays (total): 9-9; anal spines: 3; anal soft rays: 8.

Protogynous with external fertilization, nonguarders, open water/substratum egg scatterers. Sex change was found to commonly occur between the ages of 5 and 6 years. A diandric species. Length and age at sex change occur at 32 cm TL and 16 yrs, respectively.

Max. age reported: 27 years

Remarks: Values in above description denote proportions.

Synonym (s)
Lethrinus bungus Cuvier and Valenciennes, 1830
Lethrinus mahsena Ruppell, 1835
Lethrinus mahsena Gunther, 1859
Lethrinus mahsena Kner, 1865
Lethrinus mahsena Klunzinger, 1884
Lethrinus mahsena Gunther, 1875
Lethrinus mahsena Kossmann and Rauber, 1876
Lethrinus mahsena Sauvage, 1891
Lethrinus mahsena Herre and Montalban, 1927
Lethrinus haematopterus Fowler, 1933
Lethrinus abbreviatus Valenciennes, 1830
(Junior synonym)
Lethrinus caeruleus Valenciennes, 1830
(Junior synonym)
Lethrinus sanguineus Smith, 1955
(Junior synonym)
Sciaena mahsena Forsskal, 1775
(Senior synonym)
Lethrinus mahsena Weber and de Beaufort, 1936

Common Name (s)
• Sky Emperor (English)
• Filolu (Mahl)
• Metti (Malayalam)
• Mahsena Emperor (English)
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Commercial
(Fisheries, gamefish, marketed fresh or frozen, salted and dried)

Habitat:  Reef Associated, Demersal, Coastal
Prey:  Echinoderms, crustaceans, fishes, molluscs, tunicates, sponges, polychaetes and other worm


• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andamans INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Agatti INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Amini INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Bitra INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Kalpeni INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Minicoy INDIA
• Lakshadweep INDIA
• Red Sea
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands INDIA

Literature Source(s)
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  • Kemp, JM (1998) Zoogeography of the coral reef fishes of the Socotra Archipelago Journal of Biogeography 25 919-933
  • Pilling, GM; Grandcourt, EM and Kirkwood, GP (2003) The utility of otolith weight as a predictor of age in the emperor Lethrinus mahsena and other tropical fish species Fisheries Research (Amsterdam) 60 493-506 Available at - Zoological Records
  • Rao, DV; Devi, K and Rajan, PT (2000) An account of ichthyofauna of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Bay of Bengal Occasional paper no 178 Records of the Zoological Survey of India ZSI, Calcutta 1-434 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Heemstra, E; Heemstra, P; Smale, M; Hoopers, T and Pelicier, D (2004) Preliminary checklist of coastal fishes from the Mauritian island of Rodrigues Journal of natural history Taylor and Francis 38(23-24) 3315 - 3350 Available at - taylorandfrancis.metapress.com/ index/
  • Mahmoud, MU; Mekkawy, AAI and H. Ahemed, SA (2005) Scale characteristics of seven species of genus Lethrinus (family Lethrinidae) from the Red Sea, Egypt Egyptian Journal of Zoology 44 545-580
  • Letourneur, Y; Chabanet, P; Durville, P; Taquet, M; Teissier, E; Parmentier, M; Quero, JC and Pothin, K (2004) An updated checklist of the marine fish fauna of Reunion Island, south-western Indian Ocean Cybium 28(3) 199-216
  • Grandcourt Edwin Mark (2002) Demographic characteristics of a selection of exploited reef fish from the Seychelles: Preliminary study Marine and Freshwater Research 53(2) 123-130 Available at - Zoological Records
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  • Tun, MT (2001) Marine fishes of Myanmar (pelagic and demersal) U Than Tun, Director-General, Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Myanmar 276 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at - http://www.marinespecies.org
  • Al-Abdessalaam, TZS (1995) Marine species of the Sultanate of Oman p 412 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Weber, M; Beaufort, LF (1936) The fishes of the Indo-Australian Archipelago Print times, Pataudi house, Daryaganj, New Delhi 7 607 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Jones, S and Kumaran, M (1980) Fishes of the Laccadive Archipelago The Nature Conservation and Aquatic Sciences Service, Trivandrum, Kerala 760 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Fischer, W and Bianchi, G (Eds.) (1984) FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Western Indian Ocean (Fishing Area 51) FAO, Rome 2 Available at - http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/ad468e/ad468e00.HTM#Contents
  • Jones, S. (1969) Catalogue of fishes from the Laccadive Archipelago in the reference collections of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute. Bulletin of Central Marine Research Institute CMFRI, Cochin 8 1-35 Available at - http://eprints.cmfri.org.in/569/1/Bulletin_8.pdf
  • Varghese, M; Manisseri, MK; Ramamurthy, N; Geetha, PM; Thomas, VJ and Gandhi, A (2011) Coral reef fishes of Gulf of Mannar, S.E of India Fishing Chimes CMFRI 31(1) 38-40 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Talwar, PK (1990) Fishes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands: A synoptic survey Journal of the Andaman Science Association Andaman Science Association, Port Blair 6(2) 71-102 Available at - NIO,Goa

Page last updated on:2011-07-29

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