Sky emperor Lethrinus mahsena

  • Fringing Reef
  • Sky emperor
  • Fauna
  • Lagoon coral patches


Lethrinus mahsena, of the order of  Perciformes and Lethrinidae (Emperors or scavengers). It is commonly known as the Sky emperor. The overall body colour ranges from yellow to green-blue, becoming lighter ventrally with 9 to 10 dusky yellow-green brown bars. The head is purple-grey with a red blotch on the nape. There is a red bar which extends below and above the pectoral fin base to the base of the operculum. The base of the rays present on the pectoral fin is red. The anal fin is white with red membranes between the rays. The caudal fin is red. The Sky Emperor has a total of 10 dorsal spines, 9 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines and 8 anal soft rays[1]. This species is a hermaphrodite and sex change occurs at 32 cm and at the age of 16 years.


[1] ‘Lethrinus Mahsena Summary Page’.

Habitat and ecology

This species is present across the Indo-Pacific region. It is found near reefs and adjacent sandy and seagrass areas. Recorded depth range is between 2 to 100 m. Their diet consists of echinoderms, crustaceans, fish, molluscs, tunicates, sponges, polychaetes and other worms.


Conservation and management

The conservation status of this species has not been evaluated yet although it is captured for consumption.

Did you know?

This species can reach a maximum recorded length of 65 cm and age of 27 years old.