Taxon profile


Banded Reef Cod
Epinephelus fasciatus (Forsskål, 1775)

kingdom Animalia - animals »  phylum Chordata - chordates »  class Actinopterygii - ray-finned fishes »  order Perciformes - perch-likes »  family Serranidae - sea basses and groupers »  genus Epinephelus

Scientific synonyms

Perca fasciata Forsskål, 1775
Plectropoma fasciata (Forsskål, 1775)
Serranus fasciatus (Forsskål, 1775)
Epinephalus fasciatus (Forsskål, 1775)
Serranus alexandrinus Valenciennes, 1828
Epinephelus alexandrinus (Valenciennes, 1828)
Cerna alexandrina (Valenciennes, 1828)
Epinephalus alexandrinus (Valenciennes, 1828)
Serranus cruentus De Vis, 1884
Epinephelus emoryi Schultz, 1953

Other names

= Banded Rock Cod
= Black-tipped Grouper
= Black-tipped Rock-cod
= Black-tipped Rockcod
= Blacktip Grouper
= Blacktip Rockcod
= Blacktipped Cod
= Blacktipped Grouper
= Bluetipped Rockcod
= Footballer Cod
= Golden Grouper
= Red Banded Grouper
= Red Banned Grouper
= Redbarred Rockcod
= Rock Cod

Least Concern



Body depth contained 2.8 to 3.3 times in standard length (for fish 10 to 26 cm standard length). Head length contained 2.3 to 2.6 times in standard length; interorbital area flat, but dorsal head profile convex; snout length contained 4.3 to 5.1 times in head length; preopercle rounded, the rear edge finely serrate, with lowermost serrae slightly enlarged; upper edge of operculum straight; nostril subequal; maxilla reaches to below rear third of eye or a little past eye; midlateral part of lower jaw with 2 to 4 rows of teeth. Gill rakers 6 to 8 on upper limb, 15 to 17 on lower limb. Dorsal fin with XI spines and 15 to 17 rays, the 3rd to 11 th spines subequal and slightly shorter than longest dorsal-fin ray; interspinous membranes of dorsal fin distinctly incised; anal fin with III spines and 8 rays; pectoral-fin rays 18 to 20; pectoral-fin length contained 1.5 to 2.0 in head length; pelvic fins not reaching past anus, their length contained 2.0 to 2.4 times in head length; caudal fin slightly to moderately rounded; central Pacific specimens often with truncate caudal fins. Lateral-body scales ctenoid, with numerous auxiliary scales; nape and dorsoposterior part of head densely covered with minute auxiliary scales; lateral-line scales 49 to 75; lateral-scale series 92 to 135 (see Remarks for discussion of variation in scale counts). Pyloric caeca 10 to 16.
Colour: Ground colour varying from pale greenish grey, to pale reddish yellow to scarlet; body often with 5 or 6 faint dark bars, the last on peduncle; body scales (except ventrally) with pale centre and dark rear margin, producing a faint checked pattern; dorsal part of head and nape, including upper jaw, dark red or reddish brown or with bands and blotches of similar colour; often a dark band from below eye to interopercle; rim of orbit black and often bordered by a pale bluish line. Fins reddish orange, pale yellowish green, or greenish brown, the outer triangular part of interspinous membranes of dorsal fin black (dark red in fish from Western Australia and in some specimens from deep water), with pale yellow or white spot behind tip of each spine: soft dorsal, anal, and caudal fins often with pale yellow, white, or pale blue margins; pectoral fins may be yellowish distally. Pacific specimens usually with irregular pale or white blotches and spots on body (often a midlateral series diminishing in size posteriorly from behind pectoral-fin base to caudal peduncle) and a blackish brown line along crease of dorsal-fin base.


E. fasciatus is one of the most common groupers in the Indo-Pacific region, and it is one of the two most widely distributed species of grouper in the world. E. fasciatus is known from the Red Sea and western Indian Ocean (south to Port Alfred, 33º36’S) to Fremantle, Western Australia, and in the Pacific it ranges from Japan (south of 33º) and Korea to southern Queensland and Lord Howe Island and eastward to the Pitcairn Islands. It occurs at most (virtually all) of the tropical and subtropical islands of the Indian Ocean and the west-central Pacific, but it is not known from Hawaii. Its absence from the Persian Gulf is puzzling.


E. fasciatus is found on coral reefs and rocky bottom from the shore to depths of 160 m. At Madagascar it is one of the most abundant serranids at depths of 20 to 45 m, and it feeds during the day and night on brachyuran crabs, fishes, shrimps, and galatheid crabs in that order of importance (Harmelin-Vivien and Bouchon, 1976). Morgans (1982) reported that E. fasciatus from Kenyan waters ate crabs, stomatopods, fishes, ophiuroids, and octopus. Randall and Ben-Tuvia (1983) found that Red Sea specimens consumed mostly fishes and also some crustaceans (mainly crabs).


Maximum total length about 40 cm.

Interchangeable taxa

With such a wide distribution, it is not surprising that E. fasciatus exhibits considerable intraspecific variation. Based on scale counts and colour pattern, 6 populations can be distinguished: 1) Indian Ocean and Red Sea, 2) Western Australia, 3) Western Pacific, 4) Japan, 5) Pacific Plate islands, and 6) Marquesas Islands. Ranges of lateral-line scale counts for these populations are as follows: Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Western Australia 49 to 56 (n = 70); Western Pacific 49 to 54 (n = 31); Japan 55 to 61 (n = 11); Pacific Plate and Marquesas 59 to 75 (n = 46). The counts of lateral-scale series are as follows: Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Western Australia 91 to 123; Western Pacific 87 to 98; Japan 102 to 119; Pacific Plate 109 to 135; Marquesas 99 to 112 (n = 28). Specimens from Western Australia differ notably in colour, with the margin of the spinous dorsal fin dark red rather than black, as in most of the other E. fasciatus. At the Marquesas Islands, specimens have numerous irregular white spots scattered over the head and body. E. fasciatus is one of 4 closely-related species, the other 3 being E. retouti, E. rivulatus, and E. irroratus. These 4 species share similar distinctive features of their colour patterns:
1) Margin of spinous dorsal fin black or dark red (brown or gold in E. rivulatus).
2) Dark brown or red line along crease at base of dorsal fin.
3) Body scales with a white, pale blue, or greenish grey spot or centre.
4) Orbit edged with black, red, or pale blue.
These 4 species also have similar meristic and morphometric features. In E. retouti the snout is longer (the length contained 3.5 to 3.9 times in head length), the caudal fin is truncate, the soft dorsal and upper fifth of caudal fin are dark olivaceous to dark greyish brown, the orbit rim is dark red ringed with pale blue; juveniles have the dorsal part of head black, crossed by 4 irregular whitish bands, and the first 3 dark bars on the body are black dorsally, the second and third bars extending into dorsal fin. In E. rivulatus the body scale spots are conspicuous, there is a large semicircular red or reddish brown blotch at the base of the pectoral-fin rays and a similar spot anteriorly on isthmus. In E. irroratus, there are no dark bars on the body (which are usually more or less distinct in the other species) and the second dorsal-fin spine is distinctly elongated in adults.


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1993, Heemstra, P.C.; Randall, J.E., FAO species catalogue. Vol. 16. Groupers of the world (Family Serranidae, Subfamily Epinephelinae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the grouper, rock cod, hind, coral grouper and lyretail species known to date.
Author: Petr Čech

Links and literature

CH DE EN FR IT NL PR SP FishBase [5348]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/8465]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Epinephelus fasciatus (Forsskål, 1775)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [132817]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Epinephelus fasciatus (Forsskål, 1775)]
Data retrieved on: 3 August 2018

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