13 Fin-tastic Facts About The Hapuka For Kids

The hapuka facts in this article are sure to amaze you!

Wreckfish is the common name of the fish species in the family Polyprionidae. These are slow-growing, deep-sea fish that inhabit old shipwrecks (thus the name) and enjoy eating smaller fish (like cod and crayfish, apart from invertebrates like sponges) in the deep blue depths. Of the four species of fish found in this family, the hapuku which is also called the hapuka, the Whapuku, the groper and the hapuka seabass (Polyprion oxygeneios) is a greyish blue fish that is found off the coast of Western Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Chile. It is a common sight in the fishing and aquaculture trades. The value of the meat of this gray-blue deep water dweller is quite high, with top food connoisseurs in New Zealand stating that farmed hapuka taste better than any Hapuka caught from the waters around the island nation. The hapuka or Whapuku is able to grow to quite a large size over its long lifespan, with certain individuals weighing in at over 220 lb (100 kg)! Even though locals often mistake the hapuka sea bass species for a blue cod, they are two different species, despite the several visual similarities.

If you enjoy reading these facts on the hapuka, make sure to check out our articles on the wrestling halfbeak and winter flounder.


Fact File

What do they prey on?

Cod, crabs, crayfish, sponges, Mysis shrimp

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

Usually 44 lb (20 kg)

How long are they?

23.5-71 in (60-180 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Shiny bluish grey

Skin Type

Wet, slimy scales

What are their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Not Listed

Where you'll find them

Waters in the temperate and subtropical latitudes.


Pacific Ocean, Southern Indian Ocean





Scientific Name

Polyprion oxygeneios





Hapuka Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a hapuka?

The hapuka, Whapuku, or groper (Polyprion oxygeneios) is a type of fish.

What class of animal does a hapuka belong to?

The hapuka (Polyprion oxygeneios) is a part of the class Actinopterygii, a group of bony fish species.

How many hapukas are there in the world?

While the exact number of hapuka, hapuku, or groper is not known, it is usually found abundantly in the waters off the coast of Western Australia and southern New Zealand. The relative stability of the population of the hapuku is in no small part due to the limits and quotas placed on fisheries concerned with fishing the species by various governments of the world.

Where does a hapuka live?

The hapuka is known to inhabit subtropical and temperate waters, in the Pacific and southern Indian oceans. In terms of countries of the world, they are native to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, and Tristan Da Cunha.

What is a hapuka's habitat?

The hapuka sea bass (Polyprion oxygeneios) lives in the very depths of the sea, the waters near the seafloor, which are referred to as the Demersal zone. Juveniles live closer to the surface of water and are thus more easily caught by fisheries.

Who do hapukas live with?

The groper fish usually lives in schools, a group of fish of the same age and size. However, this is not permanent, and the fish will often branch off alone to hunt smaller fish and invertebrates and satisfy their hunger. Some other fish to check out include swai fish and scary piranha!

How long does a hapuka live?

The lifespan of the hapuka fish (Polyprion oxygeneios) is usually around 60 years in its home waters! In comparison, the codfish has only been seen to live for around 25 years, and the drum fish usually only lives for 20.

How do they reproduce?

The hapuka (Polyprion oxygeneios), like other species of fish, performs sexual reproduction. The male fish fertilizes the eggs of the female, who then lay them after a short incubation period. The average number of eggs she can lay at one go is around the 3000 marks! The young fingerlings hatch a week or two later and will swim up nearer to the surface, before going deeper as it ages.

What is their conservation status?

The hapuka fish is Not Listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species but is thought to have a relatively stable population in the water now, after a prior period of scarcity thought to have been caused by over-fishing.

Hapuka Fun Facts

What do hapukas look like?

This large fish species called the hapuka, hapuku, or Whapuku can range from bluish-gray to pink with silver and shiny underbelly, while juveniles have more pure blue coloration, which eventually fades as it ages. This is helpful for the juveniles who live close to the surface, as it helps mask them from human fishers. Over the 60 years that it can live for, the hapuku can grow to an astonishingly large size and weight. Local fishermen often misreport them as blue cod, due to their similar body shape. In reality, the two fish are totally different species. Unlike cod, the hapuku has spiky fins on the top of its body. This is why its genus is called Polyprion, where "Poly" means "many", and "prion" means "saw". To our human eyes, these fins seem almost like a spiky biker mohawk, maybe the Hapuku are indeed rugged marine bikers! The hapuku is most often found at a depth of over 165 ft (50 m) and can be found all the way down to a half-mile (800 m) below the surface.

The hapuku has a set of spiky fins on the top of its body, the name "Poly" means "multiple", and "prion" means "saw"
*Please note, this is a general image of a school of fish, if you have any photos of the hapuka fish, let us know at

How cute are they?

They do not have the most dazzling of colors and are more popular in the fishing and aquaculture industry, rather than in the aquarium industry. However, cuteness is obviously completely subjective, and you may find the hapuku the cutest fish ever!

How do they communicate?

Like other fish, this fish home to New Zealand and Australia releases chemicals like urine or bile into the eater to communicate social status or mood to their peers. It can also use distinct body movements to convey information to other types of fish, most often in a bid to drive them away from their feeding or breeding zone.

How big is a hapuka?

The hapuka can range in length from 23.5-71 in (60-180 cm).

How fast can a hapuka swim?

While the exact marine speed of the hapuka is not known, it is known to be a relatively slow swimmer, on account of its large size and weight.

How much does a hapuka weigh?

A hapuku can weigh anywhere up from the range of 44 lb (20 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Both male and female hapuka are referred to by the same name.

What would you call a baby hapuka?

A baby hapuka could be called a hapuka fry or hapuka fingerling.

What do they eat?

Hapuka are ferocious predators and will view virtually any fish smaller than itself in the water around it as food. It also enjoys eating invertebrates like Mysis shrimp and sponges.

Are they poisonous?

No, the hapuka is not poisonous in any way.

Would they make a good pet?

While they are not the best of fish pets, you can certainly adapt to keep one as a pet. They need to be fed good fresh meaty fare and frozen flesh. Though they do not have the most vibrant of colorings among fish, there is certainly a subtle elegance and beauty to them, one only some can see.

Did you know...

Research on how the hapuka can be bred in captivity was conducted for several years in New Zealand with Japan's help. Most complications have been overcome now, and the fish is almost ready to be produced in industry amounts artificially.

Do people eat hapuka?

The smaller hapuka fish have been described as sweet and succulent, while large individuals have flaky, chunky flesh. It is often cooked as pan-seared steaks and fillets with herbs and sauces to complement it.

Catching hapuka fish

Catching your own hapuka causes negligible effects on its marine population, so fishing it sustainably should not be a problem. While rod and line fishing can also catch hapuku when large fish flesh bait is used, they are most commonly caught using the special fishing tool called a set line, also called a groper or hapuku dropper. Either way, fishing them yourself must be done using meaty bait.

Learn more about some other fish from our brown trout facts and yellow bass facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our free printable fishing coloring pages.



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