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Hairtail (Trichiurus coxii) or Ribbonfish Photographs and Information

Hairtail are related to barracoutas and frost fish.  They are also known as cutlass fish and ribbonfish.

The Australian hairtail is a very silvery fish with a highly compressed, scaleless body tapering to a threadlike tail.  The dorsal fin is continuous from the back of the head.  The mouth contains a single series of razor-sharp compressed teeth in both jaws, the lower jaw being longer than the upper.  The upper jaw has two pairs of enlarged, barbed teeth in front and their are minute teeth on the palatines.

Hairtail tend to more in schools, this being obvious when a collection of fishing boats are grouped in a small bay.  When the fish arrive the action transfers from one boat to the next as the school passes, invariably returning to the first boat as the bay is circled.  This process continues until, for unknown reasons, they all suddenly disappear.

Hairtail are seldom caught or seen during daylight hours or at periods of low tide.

Fresh hairtail, ribbon fish

Distribution - Large schools are infrequently found in coastal bays and estuaries on Australia's east and west coast. Recreational fishers in NSW have traditionally caught this fish in Cowan Creek in the Hawkesbury River system just north of Sydney, with catches also recorded in Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay.

Size - Hairtail grow to a maximum length of 2.5m and approximately 5kg in weight.

Characteristics - Has a silver, ribbon-like body that ends in a thin whip-like tail. Hairtail have large, slashing teeth that should be avoided. They lack both caudal and ventral fins. Hairtail can be caught all year round though they are more commonly taken during winter months.

Confusing species - They are related to the southern frostfish, which have a distinct caudal fin. Anglers are unlikely to catch frostfish as it is a deepwater, offshore species.

Hairtail (Trichiurus coxii) or Ribbonfish Photo

Map showing where hairtail are in Australian waters

Scientific Name Trichiurus coxii
Location Broken Bay, NSW
Season March, April, May
Size Up to 2.2 metres and 3.5 kg
Australian Species Code -
Taste, Texture Very Good tasting fish.


Nutritional Information
For every 100 grams raw product
for Hairtail or Ribbonfish fillet.

Kilojoules -
Cholesterol -
Sodium -
Total fat (oil) -
Saturated fat -
Monounsaturated fat -
Polyunsaturated fat -
Omega-3, EPA -
Omega-3, DHA -
Omega-6, AA -

Angling for Hairtail or Ribbonfish:

Hairtail tend to move in schools, this being obvious when a collection of fishing boats are grouped in a small bay.  When the fish arrive the action transfers from one boat to the next as the school passes, invariably returning to the first boat as the bay is circled.  This process continues until, for unknown reasons, they all suddenly disappear.


Cooking Hairtail or Ribbonfish:

Microwave Cooking Times for Fish - Fish fillets 5 minutes per 500g on medium-high, +50 seconds more for thicker fillets, or until flesh flakes, Whole fish - Large 6 minutes/750g on medium, whole fish Small 3-4 minutes on medium. Easy Fish Recipes - From How To Cook Fish

Commercial Fishing for Hairtail or Ribbonfish:

Hairtail or Ribbonfish are caught using longliners. A very long and extremely condensed body with uniform sides and silvery smooth skin. The dorsal fin is extremely long, not divided into two parts and lacking finlets. The caudal fin is comparatively small. Exporters of Ribbonfish | Importers of Ribbonfish | Processors of Ribbonfish | Wholesale Suppliers of Ribbonfish | Seafood Agents for Ribbonfish

hairtail, ribbonfish, ribbon fish


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