Taxon profile


Epinephelus akaara (Temminck & Schlegel, 1842)

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

Serranus akaara Temminck & Schlegel, 1842
Epinephelus ionthas Jordan & Metz, 1913
Epinephelus lobotoides Nichols, 1913
Serranus shihpan Richardson, 1846
Serranus variegatus Richardson, 1846

Other names

= Hong Kong Grouper
= Red Grouper

Endangered EN


Body depth less than head length, depth contained 2.7 to 3.2 times in standard length (for fish 11 to 38 cm standard length). Head length contained 2.3 to 2.6 times in standard length; preopercle with enlarged serrae at angle; upper edge of operculum straight; nostrils subequal; maxilla reaching about to vertical at rear edge of eye; midside of lower jaw with 2 rows of teeth. Gill rakers 8 or 9 on upper limb, 15 to 17 on lower limb, 23 to 25 total. Dorsal fin with XI spines and 15 to 17 rays, the third to sixth spines longest, their length contained 2.4 to 3.8 times in head length, the interspinous membranes incised; anal fin with III spines and 8 rays; pectoral-fin rays 17 to 19, pectoral-fin length contained 1.5 to 2.1 times in head length: pelvic fins not reaching anus, their length contained 1.9 to 2.3 times in head length; caudal fin rounded. Lateral-body scales ctenoid, with auxiliary scales in adults; lateral-line scales 50 to 54; lateral-scale series 92 to 106.
Colour: Head and body pale brownish grey, covered (except ventrally) with small red, orange or gold spots; 6 faint oblique dark bars usually visible on body (at least dorsally), the first bar on nape, the third bar confluent with a dark brown or black blotch on body at base of last 3 dorsal-fin spines, and the last bar on caudal peduncle; dark body bars extend only onto base of dorsal fin; dorsal-fin margin yellow or orange: a row of dusky yellow or orange spots (one per membrane) along middle of spinous dorsal fin and another row along base of fin; soft dorsal, caudal, and anal fins with faint red or orange spots basally, the distal parts of these fins dusky with small faint white spots.


Western Pacific: known from southern China, Taiwan, East China Sea, Korea, and southern Japan (Kyushu to about 38ºN on both coasts of Honshu). Reported from Viet Nam by Fourmanoir (1965) but the illustration appears to be E. fasciatomaculosus. Shirai's (1986) records of E. akaara from the Philippines and India are unsubstantiated.


In Japanese waters, this species is common in rocky areas. Ukawa et al. (1966) reported pair spawning in shallow culture ponds between 15.30 and 16.30 h. The egg is transparent, 0.70 to 0.77 mm in diameter, with colourless yolk and a single colourless oil globule 0.15 to 0.16 mm in diameter. Hatching occurred after 23 to 25 hours at 25.1 to 27.0 ºC, and the newly hatched larvae were 1.45 to 1.56 mm total length. Yolk consumption was completed in 4.5 days; 15-day old larvae were 4.05 mm total length, with elongate dorsal- and pelvic-fin spines, but the caudal fin had not yet developed. Mito et al. (1967) described a complete series of larval stages. Larvae of 5.65 mm total length have the second dorsal- and pelvic-fin spines serrate and greatly elongated, and there is a long spine at the angle of the preopercle; at about 12 mm total length the rays of all fins are differentiated, and the greatly elongated dorsal- and pelvic-fin spines begin to shrink. Transformation to the juvenilestage occurs at about 25 mm total length (25 to 26 days after hatching) when many melanophores and orange chromatophores develop rapidly all over the head and body. At 28 mm total length, transformation is mostly completed (except for the spine at the corner of the preopercle, which reaches to the ventral edge of the subopercle), and the colour pattern is recognizable as that of E. akaara. Fukuhara and Fushimi (1988) described fin differentiation, squamation and variation of growth in reared larvae. Development of fin rays was completed between 7.3 and 9.6 mm standard length. In the final stages of larval development (at 20 to 27 mm standard length), the elongated second dorsal- and pelvic-fin spines have shortened to adult proportions, the caudal fin becomes rounded, scale development is completed, and the juvenile pigmentation develops.


According to Chan (1968) the maximum total length is 51 cm.

Interchangeable taxa

E. akaara is very similar to the sympatric E. fasciatomaculosus in meristic and most morphometric features. But the spots on the body of E. fasciatomaculosus are dark brown, yellowish brown, or russet (dark in alcohol); the dark bars on the body are darker, with the first two extending to the margin of the spinous dorsal fin; and there are no dusky yellow or orange spots on the spinous dorsal fin. Comparing fishes of 13 to 23 cm standard length, E. fasciatomaculosus has a slightly larger eye and more slender caudal peduncle (ratio of peduncle depth/eye diameter is 1.0 to 1.4, and for E. akaara it is 1.5 to 2.0).


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 [5158]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/8437]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Epinephelus akaara (Temminck & Schlegel, 1842)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [43974]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Epinephelus akaara (Temminck & Schlegel, 1842)]
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 Epinephelus akaara (Temminck & Schlegel, 1842)]
Data retrieved on: 19 August 2019

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