Southern School Whiting

Sillago Bassensis
Southern School Whiting - Marinewise © 2024 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Sillago Bassensis
Other names Bass Strait Whiting, Red Spot Whiting, Sand Whiting, School Whiting, Silver Whiting, Transparent Whiting, Trawl Whiting, Weedy Whiting, Western School Sillago, Western School Whiting
Size Up to 33 cm (13 in)
Weight Up to .50 kg (1.1 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters, estuaries, beaches & bays amongst sandy areas
Depth Range 1 - 10 m (32 ft)
Southern School Whiting Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Southern School Whiting is a coastal marine fish species primarily found along the coasts of Western Australia and South Australia.
  • Juvenile Southern School Whiting have a silver body with distinct dark bands running vertically along their sides. As they mature, these bands become less prominent, and the overall coloration turns more silver-grey.
  • Their diet primarily consists of small crustaceans, worms, and other small invertebrates found in sandy or muddy substrates.
  • They are known for their schooling behaviour, hence its name. They often form large schools that move and feed together, providing a spectacular sight for onlookers.
  • These fish are highly adaptable and can tolerate a wide range of salinity levels, allowing them to inhabit both estuarine and marine environments.
  • Southern School Whiting are known for their exceptional camouflage abilities. Their silver-grey coloration and streamlined body shape help them blend into the sandy or muddy substrate, making them less visible to predators and prey.
  • Their breeding habits typically occur during the warmer months, such as late spring and summer, in estuaries and shallow coastal waters. With males construct nests in sandy or gravelly areas near the water’s edge to attract females for egg deposition.
  • The female Whiting produces numerous small, adhesive eggs that attach to the sand or other surfaces until they hatch.
  • Their estimated average lifespan is between 5 – 7 years, but up to 10 years in ideal conditions.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing, Snorkeling & Diving

Fishing for Southern School Whiting is popular in Western Australia and South Australia, with anglers using lightweight fishing tackle and bait such as beach worms, shrimp, or small pieces of fish. They are highly regarded for their tasty flesh and are sought-after by anglers due to their abundance and ease of catch. They are also a interesting species for snorkelers and divers to watch in their natural environment. Their feeding behaviour and synchronised movements are fascinating to see.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Sillaginidae

Genus: Sillago

Species: Sillago Bassensis

Conservation Status

The conservation status of the Southern School Whiting in Australia is currently listed as “Not Evaluated” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This means that there has not been a comprehensive assessment of their population status and conservation needs conducted to determine a specific conservation status category.

Fish Taste Quality

Southern School Whiting is a highly regarded eating fish, known for its mild and delicate flavour. Its moist, tender flesh has a fine flaky texture that is well-received by seafood lovers.

Taste Rating: 4/5

How to catch
Southern School Whiting

Catch Difficulty: Intermediate

Tackle: Running Sinker Rig, Artificial Rig

Bait: Crab, Fresh cut flesh baits, Lures, Pilchards, Prawns, Shellfish, Squid, Worms, Yabbies, Soft plastics

Technique: Keep bait on the bottom, Cast bait/jig/lure near schooling fish

Popularity: Highly targeted

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Location: Inner Reef, Lagoon, Seagrass Beds, Sandflats

Danger: None