Taxon profile


Duskyfin Grouper
Cephalopholis hemistiktos (Rüppell, 1830)

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

Serranus hemistiktos Rüppell, 1830

Other names

= Halfspotted Hind
= Yellowfin Head

Near Threatened NT



Body depth less than head length, the depth contained 2.7 to 3.0 times in standard length (for fish 10 to 20 cm standard length). Head length contained 2.4 to 2.6 times in standard length; interorbital area flat; preopercle rounded, finely serrate, the lower edge fleshy; upper edge of operculum distinctly convex; maxilla scaly, reaching to or somewhat beyond vertical at rear edge of eye. Gill rakers 6 to 8 on upper limb, 13 to 15 on lower limb. Dorsal fin with IX spines and 14 or rarely 15 rays, the membranes distinctly indented between the spines: anal fin with III spines and 8 to 10 rays, the posterior margin of the fin pointed in adults; pectoral-fin rays 16 to 18; pectoral fins pointed, distinctly longer than pelvic fins, pectoral-fin length contained 1.4 to 1.6 times in head length; pelvic fins nearly or just reaching anus, pelvic-fin length contained 1.7 to 2.0 times in head length; caudal fin well rounded. Body scales ctenoid; no auxiliary scales: lateral-line scales 47 to 52; lateral-scale series 95 to 121.
Colour: The ground colour of specimens from shallow water is brownish, those from 15 to 20 m are brownish red, and fish from deep water are primarily reddish; dark-edged blue, ocelli on head (more numerous ventrally) and on lower part of body; caudal fin and rear part of dorsal and anal fins darker than body, covered with small blue ocelli and their margins with a pale blue line; triangular membrane at tip of each dorsal-fin spine orange; pectoral fins mostly brown to reddish brown, with a few small blue ocelli at the base, the outer margin broadly and abruptly yellow; pelvic fins dark red to reddish brown, the rays darker than the membranes. Some fish with a large yellow or buff area below soft dorsal fin or alternating dark and pale bars on body (more distinct dorsally) with dark blotches on the head.


Known with certainty only from the northern end of the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf and coast of Pakistan; records from elsewhere are apparently based on misidentifications of other species.


In the Red Sea, C. hemistiktos is more often found on patchy open reef areas rather than on well developed coral reefs; depths range from 4 to at least 55 m. It is a diurnal, ambush predator feeding throughout the day on fishes (64%, mostly pomacentrids) and crustaceans (36%). C. hemistiktos is a monogamous species and each pair jointly defends a common territory of up to 62 m2 (Shpigel and Fishelson, 1991). Van Bertalanffy growth parameters were calculated by Matthews and Samuel (1987 [reported as C. miniatus]) from a sample of 36 specimens collected in the Persian Gulf: age range = 6 to 26 years; Lºº = 34.11; K = 0.1102; to = -2.4160; where Lºº is theoretical maximum length, K is growth coefficient, and to is theoretical age at zero length.


Maximum total length 35 cm.

Interchangeable taxa

C. hemistiktos is the most common species of Cephalopholis in the Red Sea. The species that Kuronuma and Abe (1986) described and illustrated in colour as “Cephalopholis miniatus” from Kuwait is C. hemistiktos. C. miniata does not occur in the Persian Gulf, but these two species and C. sexmaculata are sympatric in the Red Sea. Randall and Heemstra (1991) found slight differences in Red Sea specimens compared with those from the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf: pectoral-fin of Red Sea fishes modally 17 (n = 36) versus 18 (n = 18); lateral-scale series of Red Sea fish 95 to 104, versus 109 to 121; and the Red Sea C. hemistiktos are smaller (the largest of 75 specimens is only 167 mm standard length; versus 265 mm standard length for a fish from Iran). C. hemistiktos is closely related to C. miniata and C. sexmaculata. These three differ slightly in colour pattern: in C. hemistiktos, there are no small blue spots on the dorsal part of the body,, but in the other two species the entire body is covered with blue spots; the caudal fin and posterior parts of the dorsal and anal fins are distinctly darker than the rest of the body in C. hemistiktos, but these fins are not darker in the other species; and the outer margin of the pectoral fins is abruptly yellow in C. hemistiktos, but gradually orange-yellow distally in C. miniata and uniformly coloured (orange-red, like the body) in C. sexmaculata. Another minor difference is that in adults of C. hemistiktos, the anal fin is pointed posteriorly, and reaches past a vertical at the caudal-fin base, but in the other species it is evenly rounded and does not extend past the caudal-fin base. And C. hemistiktos usually has 14 dorsal-fin rays, while in the other species the usual count is 15.


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 [6447]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/5344]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Cephalopholis hemistiktos (Rüppell, 1830)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [132759]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Cephalopholis hemistiktos (Rüppell, 1830)]
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 hemistiktos (Rüppell, 1830)]
Data retrieved on: 19 August 2019

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