Barramundi Fish (Asian Sea Bass) – 5 Amazing Facts

barramundi fish

Last updated on September 4th, 2022 at 04:15 pm

A variety of fish species are sold under the name barramundi, but there are only two true barramundi fish varieties. These are the Asian sea bass and its freshwater relative, the mangrove jack. The Asian sea bass (Lates calcarifer) was given its common name because it was first commercially sold by an Australian company called Barramundi Fisheries Pty Ltd in the late 1960s. The species has since also become popular in other areas of Southeast Asia as well as Australia, due to its taste and delicate texture when cooked properly.

The barramundi fish is an unusual species that have been developed through selective breeding to make it available to more people. It’s native to the Asian and Australian oceans, where it lives in coastal areas like rivers, lagoons, and estuaries as well as offshore waters up to 100 meters deep. It grows quickly, reaching 15 inches in length within six months, and can live up to 20 years with proper care. Here are some interesting facts about barramundi fish that you might not know.

Barramundi fish belong to a genus of perciform fish from Australia and Southeast Asia. The term barramundi comes from a language in Arnhem Land and means large-scaled river fish.

A barramundi fish, also known as Asian sea bass (Lates calcarifer), can reach up to 7 ft in length and is found in shallow tropical waters around northern Australia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, and the coast of India, China, and Vietnam.

What is barramundi fish?

barramundi fish

Barramundi is a fish that’s native to Australia. The name comes from two Aboriginal words: Barra, meaning large, and mundi, meaning freshwater.

Barramundi are a genus of freshwater fish in Australia and New Guinea. They are popular in aquaculture because they can grow to a large size, tolerate poor water quality, and adapt well to a wide range of diets. Several species have been successfully introduced into non-native environments worldwide as invasive species (in Hawaii, Northern California, and Florida for example).

The white flesh is fine-grained with a mild flavor. The meat has no fishy taste or smell when cooked, which makes it a desirable substitute for those who don’t like seafood. Their popularity is attributed to their white, non-fibrous meat, and their ability to be farmed in ponds.

Barramundi can weigh up to 20 kilograms (44 lb) and measure over 1 meter (3 feet) long. Their tail also resembles that of a pike; however, barramundi does not use their tail for propulsion. Instead, they simply swim by undulating their body from side to side. Barramundi can be caught on bait such as crab, shrimp, or yabbies but will take most types of soft plastic lures and spinnerbaits too.

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Species profile

Asian sea bass or barramundi fish, also known as Lates calcarifer, is a member of species within the family Latidae. This marine fish can be found in tropical and subtropical waters of Pacific and Indian Oceans, inhabiting shallow inshore habitats where water temperatures range from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius.

The species was named by Louis Fortuné Pellegrin in 1906 after his friend Georges Calcar, curator at Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle de Paris. It has no common name in English other than sea bass, which refers to its resemblance to various members of the genus Serranus.

Where does barramundi come from?

barramundi fish

The barramundi fish has a wide range, native to fresh and marine waters of Australia. They inhabit marine, brackish, and freshwaters of Southeast Asia.

The species is widespread across northern Australian coastlines, extending from Papua New Guinea in Southeast Asia to Australia’s Cape York peninsula. It also inhabits Indonesia’s eastern islands of Flores and Solor, as well as some nearby coastal areas. It lives further south as far as Perth and Geraldton, South Australia.

In western parts of its habitat, it is replaced by another similar-looking fish called threadfin bream. The species thrive in habitats with muddy bottoms or submerged tree roots where weeds are present. They may be found near coral reefs or grassy shallows within mangrove forests; however, they are most commonly found near-tropical beaches exposed to tidal flows.

Common Names

The common names of Lates calcarifer are vietnamese barramundi, barramundi fish, Asian sea bass, Great barrier reef bass, or Silver perch.

Scientific Name

The scientific name of the barramundi fish is Lates calcarifer, synonyms: Lates maculatus and Lates melapterus.

Appearance and Size

Barramundi is a tropical fish that has both a dorsal fin and an anal fin, allowing for great maneuverability. Their bodies are brownish to greenish in color. Barramundi fish also have five rays on their pectoral fins, unlike many other varieties of fish. They can grow to be up to 79 inches (200 cm) long and weigh over 132 pounds.

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Barramundi fish tank size

Due to their large size, adult barramundi would need approximately 600 gallons of water in their home aquarium.

Tank set up

Barramundi fish (Lates calcarifer/Asian sea bass) can live in both saltwater and freshwater. A barramundi fish tank should mimic their natural habitat; therefore, a freshwater barramundi tank requires about 500-600 gallons of water. The tank will need to include areas for swimming and hiding, some rocks for shelter, and a variety of plants to keep it interesting.

Your pH level should be between 6.0 and 8.0 with a temperature between 75 ̊F and 82 ̊F, depending on which species you are keeping. I prefer tropical fish tanks so I always have my temperature set at 80 ̊F years round because of most barramundi love warmth. Water filtration is very important when keeping any type of fish, especially one as large as Asian sea bass, so make sure your filter is strong enough to handle all that hair algae!

Because barramundi are omnivores, they require plenty of plant matter such as aquatic vegetation and spirulina flakes. They will also eat feeder fish if they get hungry, so small goldfish work well too. Make sure that whatever food you give them is completely thawed before feeding them – partially frozen pellets or food makes them regurgitate a bunch of gunk into your tank!

If they regurgitate into your tank, it will cause ammonia spikes and hurt your little guy’s gills.

Barramundi fish tank mates

The barramundi is a large fish, so it will do best when kept in a tank with other docile species of similar size. They are usually peaceful with their tank mates. However, they sometimes intimidate more passive fish by cruising up and down in front of them and flaring their gills. Keep them separated from fin-nipping species like goldfish and livebearers.

Some common tank mates are guppies, neons, silver dollar, and shubunkins. The barramundi will even do well with other larger species of fish, such as Oscars. Again, don’t keep them with fin-nipping fish.


barramundi fish

They are difficult to breed in captivity. Barramundi fish are bred in a hatchery, and then transplanted to an aquaculture farm for 12 months or more before being released into rivers and lakes. Because of their breeding cycle, barramundis are not considered wild-caught. In fact, you’ll rarely find wild-caught Asian sea bass for sale in markets because it would be too difficult to grow enough to meet demand.

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Barramundi farmed in Australia have been raised with no added hormones or steroids. But that doesn’t mean all barramundi sold in U.S. stores is grown without chemicals; just make sure your supplier is certified by organizations like EcoFish and Aquaculture Stewardship Council before buying any product you intend to serve up at home.

Are Barramundi fish aggressive or peaceful?

Although it is said that Barramundi fish tend to be on a list of aggressive freshwater fish, they are actually peaceful and hardy species. They are known to be extremely territorial and may even attack other schooling fish if they feel threatened. Therefore, it is important to keep Barramundi in their own tank separate from other species of fish.

Barramundi fish care

barramundi fish

Barramundis are relatively easy to maintain in captivity as juveniles; however, they will fight when mature if kept together. It’s not recommended to house barramundi together regardless of size or maturity level.

What do barramundi eat?

They are carnivorous and feed on small crustaceans, mollusks, insects, and zooplankton in freshwater areas. In saltwater areas, they are benthic feeders that prey on shellfish such as oysters, prawns, and other small invertebrates; along with fish larvae, worms, and fish eggs.

They have been known to jump out of water when catching bugs near the surface. The barramundi is a popular species for aquarium owners due to its unique coloration and diet requirements. It has also become a significant part of aquaculture operations in recent years due to its commercial value and popularity among hobbyists.

Water parameters

barramundi fish

The ideal water condition should be a pH of 6.5 – 7.0, dH range of 4-8, temperature of 75 – 80 degrees F (24 – 27 degrees C). Some species prefer slightly more acidic water of pH 6.5 to pH 7 and higher temperatures of 28 degrees C to 30 degrees C while others prefer slightly alkaline water of pH7-8 with a dH range of 8-15 and a lower temperature range of 23 – 26 degrees C. A very few species have been noted as requiring a salinity of 3 to 6 ppt for spawning.

Barramundi fish lifespan

The average lifespan of Asian sea bass is 15 to 20 years. The oldest recorded barramundi was caught in Darwin, Australia, and was 25 years old at the time of capture. However, due to their inability to withstand cold temperatures, it is more common for barramundi fish caught in northern waters to live between 10 and 20 years.

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Parasites and diseases

In some parts of Asia, barramundi is also a host to various parasites and diseases. The most common parasite is fish tapeworm or diphyllobothrium latum. Bacterial diseases, such as Aeromonas hydrophila and Flavobacterium columnare can result in white slime disease which causes rapid destruction of infected tissue. Septicemia and ulcerative skin lesions may occur after gill damage due to bacterial infection by Vibrio spp.


Natural predators include seabirds, sharks, and other large fish. It is easily spooked by a passing shadow. Feral pigs have been known to attack and kill barramundi in Australia’s Top End, perhaps because of their resemblance to their natural prey. Researchers believe that barramundi is relatively rare in environments where feral pigs are present due to their ability to decimate populations quickly.

5 Amazing barramundi facts

barramundi fish

As with any popular fish, there are a lot of interesting facts about barramundi – some you might already know and others you’ll be fascinated by! Here are five things we think you may know.

  1. They’re capable of living in both fresh and saltwater. So they travel between fresh and saltwater without an issue (thanks to their gills).
  2. There are three species: Green, Yellowtail, and Redclaw, with Redclaw being the most popular variety on Australian menus.
  3. In years past, they were known as Asian Sea Bass because they swim up into rivers during the breeding season. But they aren’t related to Sea Bass so they changed it because people kept ordering Sea Bass when they meant Barramundi!
  4. The meat can be firm or flaky depending on how it’s cooked, and yes, it tastes good, baked or grilled like salmon.
  5. It can grow up to 7 feet long! That makes for a pretty big meal if you catch one all by yourself!