Taxon profile


Banded-tail Coral-cod
Cephalopholis urodeta (Forster, 1801)

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

Perca urodeta Forster, 1801
Perca urodeta Forster, 1844
Serranus erythraeus Valenciennes, 1830
Epinephelus erythraeus (Valenciennes, 1830)
Serranus mars De Vis, 1884
Serranus mauritiae Gudger, 1829
Epinephelus playfairi Bleeker, 1879
Epinephelus playfayri Bleeker, 1879
Serranus urodelus Valenciennes, 1828
Epinephelus urodelus (Valenciennes, 1828)

Other names

= Black-finange Rock Cod
= Blackfin Cod
= Brown-finned Rock-cod
= Darkfin Hind
= Duskyfin Rockcod
= Flag-tail Rock Cod
= Flag-tailed Grouper
= Flag-tailed Rock-cod

= Flagtail Cod
= Flagtail Grouper

Least Concern LC


Body depth less than nead length, depth contained 2.7 to 3.3 times in standard length (for fish 9 to 21 cm standard length). Head length contained 2.4 to 2.7 times in standard length; interorbital area convex; preopercle rounded, finely serrate, the lower edge fleshy; subopercle and interopercle usually smooth; maxilla reaching well past eye. Gill rakers 7 to 9 on upper limb, 15 to 17 on lower limb. Dorsal fin with IX spines and 14 to 16 rays; anal fin with III spines and 9 (rarely 8) rays; pectoral-fin rays 17 to 19; pectoral fins distinctly longer than pelvic fins, pectoral-fin length contained 1.3 to 1.7 times in head length; pelvic fins usually not reaching anus, pelvic-fin length contained 1.8 to 2.3 times in head length; caudal fin rounded. Snout and maxilla with minute cycloid scales, lateral-body scales ctenoid, without auxiliary scales; lateral-line scales 54 to 68; lateral-scale series 88 to 108.
Colour: Reddish brown to brownish red, darker posteriorly; body sometimes with small pale spots and/or 4 faint, irregular, dark bars that bifurcate ventrally and another two dark bars on caudal peduncle; head with numerous, small, close-set orange-red spots (more evident on paler parts of head) and sometimes with irregular reddish brown blotches; dark spot between upper and middle opercular spines (more evident on juveniles); a pair of small dark spots on edge of lower lip in line with the pair of anterior canine teeth; soft dorsal and anal fins with small orange-red spots; outer triangular part of interspinous dorsal-fin membranes orange; pelvic fins orange-red, usually with a dark blue edge. Caudal fin of Indian Ocean fish dark reddish brown to almost black and covered with small pale spots; caudal fin of Pacific fish (larger than 4 cm standard length) with 2 white to bluish white bands that converge posteriorly, the area between the bands dark, often with pale spots, the outer corners of the fin red, with a whitish margin. Pectoral fins of Indian Ocean fish coloured like body basally, becoming dark brown to almost black distally: Pectoral fins of Pacific fish reddish brown basally, becoming yellow distally. Some fish from dark habitats in the Comoro Islands are uniformly black.


Indian Ocean from the coast of Africa (Kenya to northern South Africa) to French Polynesia and the Pitcairn Islands; not known from the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, or the coast of India. C. urodeta is a widespread and common species that probably occurs at all of the tropical islands and shallow banks of the Indian and west-central Pacific Oceans. It is also known from the northern coast of Australia. Although Heemstra and Randall (1993) have seen one specimen (USNM, 118 mm standard length) from Sri Lanka, and the species occurs at the nearby Maldive Islands, it appears to be absent from the entire Arabian/Asian coast of the Indian Ocean. The specimens from Muscat (Oman) that Boulenger (1895:188 or 189) referred to “Epinephelus nigripinnis” are probably C. hemistiktos; they are certainly too large to be C. urodeta.


This is a common coral reef species that is usually seen in outer reef areas, but also found in lagoons, back-reef areas, and on the reef-top. It has been collected in depths of 1 to 60 m. Randall and Brock (1960) found that it feeds mainly on fishes (68%) and crustaceans.


Maximum total length 28 cm.


Heemstra and Randall (1993) have been unable to find any morphological character to separate the Pacific and Indian Ocean populations of this species. Although these two populations are mostly allopathic, there does seem to be some overlap in the western Indonesia area (Heemstra and Randall (1993) have seen specimens from Jakarta and the western end of Sumatera that lack the white bands on the tail). Intermediate specimens, with a series of pale spots in place of the white caudal bands, as well as typically white-banded fish, occur at Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean (Allen and Steene, 1988).


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 [6456]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/5359]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Cephalopholis urodeta (Forster, 1801)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [132783]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Cephalopholis urodeta (Forster, 1801)]
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 urodeta (Forster, 1801)]
Data retrieved on: 19 August 2019

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