Japanese lates

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Japanese lates
Japanese lates -Himeji-2.jpg
Japanese lates at Himeji Aquarium
Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification
L. japonicus
Binomial name
Lates japonicus

The Japanese lates (Lates japonicus), also known as the akame (from the Japanese 赤目, アカメ, literally "red eye") or Japanese barramundi, is a species of fish found in Japan. A bottom-dweller restricted to estuarine habitats and large rivers in the coastal eastern parts of the country, it is threatened by habitat destruction. As it is similar to the related barramundi, it was classified as the same species until 1984.


The Japanese lates has a comparatively long and compressed body and a large mouth. It is a metallic grey in overall colour, with a bluish tint, darker upperparts, and lighter underparts. Its fins are greyish black, and its pupils are red.[1] While similar to the barramundi, it differs in several features. It has a deeper body, longer third dorsal and second anal spines, fewer pectoral fin rays, more scales, and fewer gill rakers.[1] It reaches a maximum length of 130 centimetres (51 in) and a maximum weight of 33 kilograms (73 lb).[2]


Having previously been considered to be the same as the barramundi (Lates calcifer), Lates japonicus was first scientifically described in 1984. Even when it was realised it was a separate species, publication of a formal description was delayed since the type specimen of the barramundi was alleged to originate in Japan, and because of confusion caused by the deformities of the barramundi's type specimen.[1] Both the barramundi and the Japanese lates are classified with about 10 other species in the genus Lates, which in turn is in the family Latidae (or in older classifications, Centropomidae).


The Japanese lates is a bottom dweller in the freshwater shallows, estuaries, and the ocean.[2][3] The Japanese lates is known in the south-western part of the Japanese main islands, where it is found in the seas around Tosa Bay, in Kōchi Prefecture, Shikoku and near Miyazaki City in Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu. It is believed to spawn there, and younger fish are found up the Ōyodo and Shimanto rivers. The barramundi is believed to replace it in the Ryukyu Islands.[1][4]

The Japanese lates has long been known to fishermen, but because of its relative rarity and shyness, it achieved "almost legendary" status.[5] For some time, scientists were uncertain which fish was the "akame" of legend, and some suspected Psammoperca waigiensis.[1] It is kept in aquaria and cultured for food,[2] but is poorly known in the wild. In February 2010, the first video of the akame living in its natural surroundings was broadcast on the BBC, in a report on the University of Tokyo's research project where Japanese lates were fitted with ultrasound tracking devices.[5][6]


  1. ^ a b c d e Katayama, Masao; Taki, Yasuhiko (1984). "Lates japonicus, a New Centropomid Fish from Japan" (PDF). Japanese Journal of Ichthyology.
  2. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2010). "Lates japonicus" in FishBase. February 2010 version.
  3. ^ Gonzalvo, S.; H. Tanoue; and T. Komatsu (2015). Shoaling behaviour of Lates japonicus revealed through a digital camera logger. Global Ecology and Conservation 3: 831–838 doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2015.04.009.
  4. ^ Iwatsuki, Y.; Tashiro, K.; Hamasaki, T. (1993). "Distribution and fluctuations in occurrence of a Japanese centropomid fish, Lates japonicus" (PDF). Japanese Journal of Ichthyology. 40 (3): 327–332.
  5. ^ a b "Japanese scientists uncover rare Akame fish behaviour". BBC News. 23 February 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  6. ^ Tanoue, H.; Komatsu, T.; Tsujino, T.; Suzuki, I.; Watanabe, M.; Goto, H.; Miyazaki, N (2012). "Feeding events of Japanese lates Lates japonicus detected by a high-speed video camera and three-axis micro-acceleration data-logger". Fish. Sci. 78 (3): 533–538. doi:10.1007/s12562-012-0470-z.