Taxon profile


Cephalopholis cruentata (Lacépède, 1802)

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

Scientific synonyms

Sparus cruentatus Lacépède, 1802
Petrometopon cruentatum (Lacépède, 1802)
Petrometopon cruentatus (Lacépède, 1802)
Cephalopholis cruentatus (Lacépède, 1802)
Epinephelus cruentatus (Lacépède, 1802)
Serranus apiarius Poey, 1860
Serranus coronatus Valenciennes, 1828
Serranus nigriculus Valenciennes, 1828
Bodianus stellatus Blosser, 1909

Other names

= Deady
= Graysby

Least Concern LC


Cephalopholis cruentata - Coney

Author: Becky A. Dayhuff


Body depth distinctly less than head length, body depth contained 2.5 to 2.9 times in standard length (for fish 13 to 26 cm standard length). Head length contained 2.4 to 2.6 times in standard length; interorbital area flat to slight convex; preopercle rounded, finely serrate, with shallow notch above the angle; nostrils small, subequal; maxilla scaly, reaching past vertical at rear edge of eye. Gill rakers 18 to 25 (total). Dorsal fin with IX spines and 13 to 15 rays, the fourth or fifth spines longest and the membrane distinctly indented between all the spines; anal fin with III spines and 8 rays; pectoral-fin rays 16; caudal fin rounded. Lateral-body scales distinctly ctenoid; lateral-line scales 47 to 51; lateral-scale series 69 to 81.
Colour: Head, body, and fins pale grey, brown, or olive green, covered with orange-brown or reddish spots; 4 distinct spots, which can change rapidly from black to white or back again, at base of dorsal fin; a middorsal white stripe sometimes present from tip of lower jaw to nape.


Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, North Carolina to southern Florida, Bahamas and Bermuda.


C. cruentata is found in Thalassia beds and on coral reefs from shore to depths of 170 m. In the eastern Gulf of Mexico, it occurs on the rocky reef ledge in depths greater than 27 m. Thompson and Munro (1978) observed that graysby were more abundant in heavily fished areas than in unexploited areas and presumed that it “benefits in some way from reduced competition or predation in the exploited areas, or that its catchability is significantly less than that of other groupers.” A similar increase in the population of graysby in the absence of competitors and predators occurred after the 1971 red tide killed most of the groupers on shallow-water reefs off the west coast of Florida. Before 1971, C. cruentata was never observed or collected in less than 29 metres, but after the red tide of that year, it became common on reefs in 12 to 18 m until the summer of 1974 when it disappeared abruptly (Bullock and Smith, 1991). Nagelkerken (1979) found that at the end of their first year; graysby were 8 cm long (standard length) and had formed 7 growth rings in their otoliths. Females mature at 16 cm (total length) and most change sex between 20 and 23 cm (ages 4 and 5), with sexual transition occurring immediately after spawning in August and September. Thompson and Munro (1978) estimated the number of eggs per spawning at 262 604 for a fish of 29 cm total length. Graysby are small, secretive fish that usually stay near hiding places in the reef during the day. They are crepuscular predators, and adults feed mainly on fishes, with a preference for Chromis multilineata where this species is abundant. Graysby have also been seen following moray eels in order to capture fishes disturbed from their hiding places by the foraging eels (Dubin, 1982). After sunset a greater proportion of crustacean prey is taken because of their increased nocturnal availability. Juveniles feed more on shrimps than on fishes. Johnson and Keener (1984) illustrated the distinctive second dorsal- and pelvic-fin spines of the larvae. Both dorsal- and pelvic-fin spines have large, widely-spaced spinelets along their entire length, and those along the proximal part of the pelvic-fin spine are distinctly bifurcate.


Maximum total length 32 cm.


C.L. Smith (1971) reckoned that C. cruentata and C. panamensis were geminate species that have evolved as a result of the isolation of their parent population by the emergence of the Central American Isthmus. The colour patterns of these two species are quite distinct, but morphological differences are minor. In both species, the dorsal surface of the cranium has converging transverse ridges running from the lateral skull crests to the midline of the frontals. And Johnson and Keener (1984) noted that small juveniles of C. panamensis show bifurcate spinelets at the base of the pelvic-fin spines similar to the distinctive spination of C. cruentata. Serranus nigriculus Valenciennes was assigned to the synonymy of Epinephelus adscensionis by C.L. Smith (1971), but the dorsal- and anal-fin ray counts of Valenciennes’ syntypes (dorsal fin with IX spines and 14 rays; anal fin with III spines and 8 rays) would preclude such assignment. In the original description, Valenciennes (1828) says that the numbers of fin rays for E. nigriculus are the same as for Serranus catus (= E. guttatus), which he had just described; but this species has XI dorsal-fin spines. So it appears that Valenciennes had miscounted the dorsal-fin spines of his syntypes.


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 [12]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/5340]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Cephalopholis cruentata (Lacepède, 1802)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [132761]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Cephalopholis cruentata (Lacepède, 1802)]
Data retrieved on: 3 August 2018
CZ Hanel L., Plíštil J., Novák J. (2011): České názvy živočichů V. Ryby a rybovití obratlovci (Pisces). 7. Paprskoploutví (Actinopterygii) Kostnatí (Neopterygii) [Ropušnicotvaří (Scorpaeniformes) – ostnoploutví (Perciformes) – Percoidei], Národní muzeum (zoologické oddělení), Praha, 148 str. [as Cephalopholis cruentata (Lacépède, 1802)]
Data retrieved on: 19 August 2019

Contributions to BioLib

Help us to expand this encyclopedia! If you are logged in, you can add new subtaxa, vernacular and scientific names, texts, images or intertaxon relationships for this taxon.