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Hump Headed Maori Wrasse Rockcod (Chelinus Undulatus) Photographs and Information

By far the largest of the Maori Wrasses with examples of above 45kg (100lb)  It is recognised by its bulging forehead hump, enormous scales and vivid blue colouring.   It is a deep, powerful fish with a long single dorsal fin and a long anal fin.   The tailfin is rounded.

Colouring varies with age but is generally bright electric blue to a duller blue/green, green or purplish blue.  The head has distinct red "war-paint" like markings.  The scales are large and each have a red stripe.

Hump Headed Maori Wrasse are found on coral reef edges and drop-offs, moving up onto the reef tops at high tide.  They hunt crabs, lobsters (crayfish) and other crustacea among the coral, regularly shouldering small boulders and lumps of coral aside in their pursuit of such prey.

Humphead wrasses are extremely long-lived, known to survive for at least 30 years, and taking around five to seven years to reach sexual maturity

Using their tough teeth, these fish are able to consume hard-shelled species such as molluscs, echinoderms and crustaceans. They are one of the few predators of species that destroy coral reefs, such as the infamous crown of thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci)

The humphead wrasse is found throughout the Indo-Pacific Oceans, from the Red Sea and the coast of east Africa to the central Pacific, south from Japan to New Caledonia

hump_headed_maori_wrasse.jpg (25936 bytes)

wpe3F.jpg (4718 bytes)

Scientific Name Chelinus Undulatus
Location Northern Half of Australia
Season All year round
Size Over 45kg
Australian Species Code 37 384903
Taste, Texture Very good eating


Nutritional Information
For every 100 grams raw product
for Rockcod fillet.

Kilojoules -
Cholesterol 27 mg
Sodium -
Total fat (oil) 0.6 g
Saturated fat 35% of total fat
Monounsaturated fat 16% of total fat
Polyunsaturated fat 49% of total fat
Omega-3, EPA 13 mg
Omega-3, DHA 152 mg
Omega-6, AA 25 mg

Angling for Maori Rockcod:

They can be taken on baits of fish flesh, squid or prawns and crabs.  Jigs and rubber-tailed leadheads will also take Hump Headed Maori Wrasse (it also helps to "sweeten" these jigs with a strip of fish or squid)

The humphead wrasse is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List, and listed on Appendix II of CITES

catching maori wrasse on lure - catch and release
Photo from John Bell - Thanks JB!

Cooking Maori Rockcod:

Colour of Raw Fillet:


Flavour: Mild, sweet
Moisture Medium to moist


Firm and flaky

Fat Content:


A fine and intricately patterned fish, it is classed as first rate eating, especially when baked. Widely acknowledged as one of the best eating fish in the tropic seas.  A delicacy.

Rockcods are medium-priced finfish. Larger rockcods command higher prices.

Popular for their low oiliness and juicy, thick flakes, rockcods are worth experimenting with for hearty menu items. They are especially good fried, barbecued or steamed as fillets or steaks. Grilled rockcod steaks are excellent served with pepperonata or tapenade. Try baked in a rich vegetable provenÁale, or salted, for a unique taste.

A traditional Greek preparation is to flake poached finfish such as rockcod, mix in an egg batter, deep fry the fritters, and serve with skordalia and braised beets.

Rockcods can also provide good flavouring for stocks and soups and are excellent in curries and casseroles. Heads of large individuals are sought after for the cheek flesh, which is used in soups and stocks.

Live rockcods are popular in some Asian restaurants. They are also superb raw, particularly in a Tahitian salad.

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


Commercial Fishing for Maori Rockcod:

Wild caught. Aquaculture trials are in progress in northern Australia for some rockcods.

Recovery Rate
Fillets: 47% from whole rockcod (gilled and gutted)


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