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Orange Roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) Photographs and Information

Orange Roughy have a bright reddish orange head and body and their mouth and gill cavities are black.  Their head is covered with bony ridges and deep mucus cavities.   The dorsal fin has 6 spines (the last one being the longest) and 15-18 rays.

They mainly live in deep, cold (4-7C) waters over steel continental middle and lower slopes and oceanic ridges.  They have been recorded from as deep as 1809 metres in the north Atlantic Ocean.  In Australia they live in waters from 700m to at least 1400m, on the continental shelf slope between Port Stephens in New South Wales and Cape Naturaliste in Western Australia.   They are also found on the South Tasman Rise, Cascade Plateau and Lord Howe Rise.

Orange Roughy have been found over both flat bottoms and steep rough grounds, such as pinnacles and canyons.

Adult fish form dense spawning aggregations for several weeks in winter.  Orange Roughy are synchronous spawners (that is they shed eggs and sperm into the water at the same time)  Orange Roughy produce between 10,000 and 90,000 large eggs (2.0 - 2.5mm in diameter)  The eggs are buoyant when fertilised and hatch about 10 - 20 days after fertilisation.

Orange Roughy are believed to be slow growers and natural mortality is probably low.   Although a reliable ageing technique is yet to be developed, radiometric ageing techniques suggest that Orange Roughy can live to at least 149 years.  Maturity is thought to occur between 20 and 32 years, when the fish are 28-32cm long and weigh between 500 and 800g.

Orange Roughy feed opportunistically on bentho-pelagic and meso-pelagic fish, such as viperfish, lanternfish and whiptails,  also on crustaceans, amphipods and mysids.   They particularly like jewel squid.  Juvenile roughy feed mainly on crustaceans, while mature fish eat predominantly fish and squid.  They have moderately high rates of food consumption.

Natural predators of Orange Roughy include Oilfish and large Basketwork Eels.


Orange Roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) Photo

Map showing where Orange Roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) are found in Australian waters

Orange Roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) whole fish

Scientific Name Hoplostethus atlanticus
Location NSW, VIC, QLD, WA, SA, TAS
Season All year round
Size To 56 cm,  5 kg
Australian Species Code 37 255009
Taste, Texture Delicate and mild.  Coarse flakes. Med. to firm


Nutritional Information
For every 100 grams raw product
for Orange Roughy fillet.

Kilojoules 273 (65 calories)
Cholesterol 58 mg
Sodium 63 mg
Total fat (oil) 4.9 g
Saturated fat 3% of total fat
Monounsaturated fat 96% of total fat
Polyunsaturated fat 1% of total fat
Omega-3, EPA 13 mg
Omega-3, DHA n/a
Omega-6, AA n/a

Angling for Orange Roughy:

Cooking Orange Roughy:

Colour of Raw Fillet:

Pearly white.


Coarse flakes.  Medium to firm.

Fat Content:

Medium to high.  Oil content high.


Delicate to mild.

Cooking Orange Roughy

The darker the Roughy meat the lower the quality. In New Zealand the Roughy is caught headed, gutted and frozen at sea then thawed, processed and refrozen on land. In Australia where the fish is closer to shore the fish are caught then processed and frozen ashore. This is where the marketing term once frozen is applied Some packers pump Roughy with phosphates so care in purchasing and receiving must be taken.

The fat underneath the skin must be completely removed as it contains an indigestible oily wax that causes diarrhea in humans.


Recipes using Orange Roughy

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



orange roughy fillet, white fish fillet, fillet of orange roughy

Orange Roughy Fillet

how to cook orange roughy fish Orange roughy fish in honey garlic sauce Crispy baked orange roughy fish fillet Orange roughy fish fillet with mango and orange salad
How to cook Orange Roughy Orange Roughy in Honey Garlic Sauce Crispy Baked Orange Roughy Fillet Orange Roughy Spring Mix
salad of mangos and oranges

Commercial Fishing for Orange Roughy:

Orange roughy are currently managed as five separate stocks inside the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ). A separate stock is fished by both Australian and New Zealand fishers at a place called the South Tasman Rise which lies on the edge of Australia's Fishing Zone some 200 nautical miles south of Tasmania.

All but one of Australia's orange roughy stocks (the Cascade Plateau) is severely overfished by demersal (bottom) trawling by the South East Trawl Fishery.

The South East Trawl Fishery is a large multi-species bottom trawl fishery which hunts a mixture of finfish (or scalefish) species and invertebrates, including orange roughy, on the continental shelf, slope and offshore seamounts around southern Australia.

Exporters, Importers & Processors, Wholesale & Agents of Orange Roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus)

More links about Orange Roughy

Australian Government - Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.  Biodiversity - Orange Roughy - Species Profile and Threats Database:  This page has information about the Orange Roughy, including information on Legal Status and Documents, Names, Taxon Distribution, Illustrations, Australian and State/Territory Government Legal Status, Taxonomy, Description, Australian Distribution, Global Distribution, Population Information, Populations in Reserves, Habitat, Life Cycle, Feeding, Movement Patterns, Survey Guidelines, Threats, Threat Abatement and Recovery, Major Studies, Management Documentation, Species Profile References

Australian Government - Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (PDF file) - Australian Fisheries Statistics 2010/2011




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