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Species Information

Balmain Bug

Ibacus peronii (Eastern Balmain Bug)

Other Names
Bug, flapjack, flying saucer, sand lobster, shovelnose lobster, shovel-nosed lobster, slipper lobster, southern baylobster, southern bay lobster, squagga, squat lobster.

Family
Scyllaridae (shovel-nosed/slipper lobsters).

Description, Location, Habitat and Harvesting Information
A marine crustacean with a reddish brown shell, broad flat head with eyes close to the centre, short narrower tail and 5 pairs of small legs. Currently only available wild-caught, though aquaculture research is underway. Found mainly on the continental slope, from 15m-650m, most commonly less than 150m, south from Fraser Island in Queensland to Geraldton in WA (with a pocket further north on the North West Shelf from Port Hedland to Broome) though caught primarily off the NSW coast as bycatch of fish and Prawn trawling (and specifically targeted in some areas). They often bury themselves in sand or mud during the day and become active after dark. Ibacus peronii is the largest and commercially most important member of the seven Ibacus species found in Australia (others include Ibacus alticrenatus and Ibacus chacei).

Season
Available year round peaking in January and February.

Size and Weight
Average 120g, but commonly 80-200g with 10-14cm wide head.

Price
Medium-high priced, more expensive in areas where they are caught as they are familiar and popular.

Relations
Moreton Bay Bugs, Rocklobsters, Slipper Lobsters. Most easily distinguished from similar species by the central position of the eyes; Moreton Bay Bugs’ eyes are located on the outer edges of the shell and those of Slipper Lobsters are also closer to the edges than to the centre. Moreton Bay Bugs have a narrower body.

To Buy
Sold whole, sometimes live (and frozen whole, tails and as meat). Look for brightly coloured, firm, intact, lustrous shells, without any discolouration, particularly at joints, and a pleasant fresh sea smell.

To Store
Wrap whole Bugs or meat in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months below -18ºC.

To Cook
Average yield is 30%, the edible flesh is only in the tail and larger Bugs have a lower yield due to their head size. Has a medium-strong flavour (more ‘fishy’ than Moreton Bay Bugs), low oiliness and dry, firm flesh. To remove meat from shells, either split Bug lengthwise, or, to keep meat in one piece, remove head, turn tail over and cut down either side of the tail using kitchen scissors, peel underside of tail back and remove meat. Do not recook cooked Bugs, eat cold in salads or with a dipping sauce. The most humane, and easiest, method of killing any crustacean is to chill it in the freezer for about 45 minutes until it becomes insensible (but not long enough to freeze it). Once chilled, it should be killed promptly by splitting in half or dropping into rapidly boiling water. See www.rspca.org.au for more details.

Cooking Methods
Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry, grill, barbecue. Excellent cold as part of a seafood platter. To BBQ, cut in half lengthwise and cook in the shell. The firm flesh holds together well in soups, curries and casseroles and can be cubed for kebabs.

Goes Well With
Citrus, fresh herbs (dill, basil, chervil, parsley, French tarragon), garlic, ginger, green vegetables (asparagus, snowpeas, baby beans), mayonnaise, vinaigrette.

Alternatives
Marron, Moreton Bay Bugs, Redclaw, Prawns, Yabby.

Imports
Various Ibacus species are occasionally imported from Asia, usually as frozen tails.

Recipes
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Species Groups

Learn about the following species groups (including their most common members, as well as purchasing, storage and cooking information), or select a specific species from the species list below.
Further information

Can't find the information you're after?  Email  fishline@sydneyfishmarket.com.au with your questions.

Species List
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Albacore
Thunnus alalunga

Atlantic Salmon
Salmo salar

Australian Bass
Macquaria novemaculeata

Australian Salmon
Arripus trutta (Eastern Australian Salmon)
Arripus truttaceaus (Western Australian Salmon)

Australian Sardine
Sardinops neopilchardus

Bailer Shell
Livonia mamilla (False Bailer Shell)
Melo species (Melon Shell)
Other members of the Zidoninae subfamily (Bailer Shell)

Balmain Bug
Ibacus peronii (Eastern Balmain Bug)

Banana Prawn
Fenneropenaeus indicus (Redleg Banana Prawn)
Fenneropenaeus merguiensis (White Banana Prawn)

Barramundi
Lates calcarifer

Bay Prawn
Metapenaeus bennettae (Greentail Prawn)
Metapenaeus insolitus (Greasyback Prawn)

Bigeye Trevally
Caranx sexfasciatus

Bigeye Tuna
Thunnus obesus

Black Bream
Acanthopagrus butcheri

Black Pomfret
Parastromateus niger

Blacklip Abalone
Haliotis rubra

Blue Grenadier
Macruronus novaezelandiae

Blue Mackerel
Scomber australasicus

Blue Mussel
Mytilus galloprovincialis

Blue Swimmer Crab
Portunus pelagicus

Blue Warehou
Seriolella brama

Blue-Eye Trevalla
Hyperoglyphe antarctica (Blue-Eye Trevalla)
Schedophilus labyrinthica (Ocean Blue-Eye)

Bluespotted Flathead
Platycephalus caeruleopunctatus

Bonito
Australian Bonito (Sarda australis)
Oriental Bonito (Sarda orientalis)
Leaping Bonito (Cybiosarda elegans)

Brook Trout (‘Saltwater Charr’)

Salvelinus fontinalis


Chinook Salmon (‘King’ Salmon)

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha


Commercial Scallop
Pecten fumatus

Cuttlefish
Sepia apama (Giant Cuttlefish)
Sepia pharaonis (Pharaoh’s Cuttlefish)

Dart
Trachinotus botla (Common Dart)
Trachinotus baillonii (Smallspotted Dart)
Trachinotus blochii (Snubnose Dart)
Trachinotus coppingeri (Swallowtail Dart)
Trachinotus anak (Giant Oystercracker Dart)

Deepwater Flathead
Neoplatycephalus conatus

Diamondscale Mullet
Liza vaigiensis

Dusky Flathead
Platycephalus fuscus

Eastern Rocklobster
Jasus verreauxi

Eastern Shovelnose Ray
Aptychotrema rostrata

Endeavour Prawn
Metapenaeus endeavouri (Blue Endeavour Prawn)
Metapenaeus ensis (Red Endeavour Prawn)

Frypan Bream
Argyrops spinifer

Giant Trevally
Caranx ignobilis

Goldband Snapper
Pristipomoides multidens (Goldband Snapper)
Pristipomoides typus (Sharptooth Snapper)

Golden Perch
Macquaria ambigua

Golden Trevally
Gnathanodon speciosus

Gould's Squid
Nototodarus gouldi

Greenlip Abalone
Haliotis laevigata

Grey Mackerel
Scomberomorus semifasciatus

Jack Mackerel
Trachurus declivis (Common Jack Mackerel)
Trachurus murphyi (Peruvian Jack Mackerel)

Jackass Morwong
Nemadactylus macropterus

John Dory
Zeus faber

King Dory
Cyttus traversi

King George Whiting
Sillaginodes punctata

King Prawn
Melicertus latisulcatus (Western King Prawn)
Melicertus plebejus (Eastern King Prawn)
Melicertus longistylus (Redspot King Prawn)

King Threadfin
Polydactylus macrochir

Loligo Squid
Loligo formosa
Loligo chinensis

Longtail Tuna
Thunnus tonggol

Marron
Cherax tenuimanus (Margaret River Marron)
Cherax cainii (Smooth Marron)

Mirror Dory
Zenopsis nebulosus

Moreton Bay Bug
Thenus orientalis (Sandbug)
Thenus indicus (Mudbug)

Mud Crab
Scylla serrata (Giant Mud Crab)
Scylla olivacea (Orange Mud Crab)

Murray Cod
Maccullochella peelii

Native Oyster
Ostrea angasi

Northern Calamari
Sepioteuthis lessoniana

Ocean Jacket
Nelusetta ayraudi

Octopus
Octopus aegina (Baby Octopus)
Octopus tetricus (Sydney Octopus)
Octopus australia (Southern Octopus)
Octopus maorum (Maori Octopus)
Octopus pallidus (Pale Octopus)
Octopus graptus (Scribbled Night Octopus)

Pacific Oyster
Crassostrea gigas

Periwinkle
Littorinidae species (‘True’ Periwinkle)
Neritidae species (Nerite) 
Turbo species (Turban Shells)

Pikey Bream
Acanthopagrus berda

Pink Ling
Genypterus blacodes

Pipi
Donax deltoides

Queenfish
Scomberoides tol (Needleskin Queenfish)
Scomberoides tala (Barred Queenfish)
Scomberoides lysan (Lesser Queenfish)
Scomberoides commersonnianus (Giant Queenfish)

Rainbow Trout ('Ocean Trout')

Oncorhynchus mykiss


Red Emperor
Lutjanus sebae

Redclaw
Cherax quadricarinatus

Redfish
Centroberyx affinis

Ribaldo
Mora moro

Rock Ling
Genypterus tigerinus

Royal Red Prawn
Haliporoides sibogae

Samsonfish
Seriola dumerili (Amberjack)
Seriola hippos (Samsonfish)

Sand Whiting
Sillago ciliata

Saucer Scallop
Amusium balloti (Ballot’s Saucer Scallop)
Amusium pleuronectes (Northern Saucer Scallop)

School Mackerel
Scomberomorus queenslandicus

School Prawn
Metapenaeus macleayi (School Prawn)
Metapenaeus dalli (Western School Prawn)

School Whiting
Sillago flindersi (Eastern School Whiting)
Sillago bassensis (Southern School Whiting)
Sillago robusta (Stout Whiting)

Sea Mullet
Mugil cephalus

Silver Dory
Cyttus australis

Silver Perch
Bidyanus bidyanus

Silver Trevally
Pseudocaranx dentex (Silver Trevally)
Pseudocaranx wrighti (Skipjack Trevally)

Silver Warehou
Seriolella punctata

Snapper
Pagrus auratus

Southern Bluefin Tuna
Thunnus maccoyii

Southern Calamari
Sepioteuthis australis

Southern Rocklobster
Jasus edwardsii

Southern Sand Flathead
Platycephalus bassensis

Spanish Mackerel
Scomberomorus commerson

Spanner Crab
Ranina ranina

Spotted Mackerel
Scomberomorus munroi

Striped Marlin
Tetrapturus audax

Surf Clam
Dosinia caerulea

Swordfish
Xiphias gladius

Sydney Rock Oyster
Saccostrea glomerata

Tarwhine
Rhabdosargus sarba

Tiger Flathead
Neoplatycephalus richardsoni (Tiger Flathead)
Neoplatycephalus aurimaculatus (Toothy Flathead)

Tiger Prawn
Penaeus monodon (Black Tiger Prawn)
Marsupenaeus japonicus (Kuruma Prawn)
Penaeus esculentus (Brown Tiger Prawn)
Penaeus semisulcatus (Grooved Tiger Prawn)

Trochus
Trochus niloticus

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