Taxon profile


Brown-spotted Grouper
Epinephelus chlorostigma (Valenciennes, 1828)

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 chlorostigma Valenciennes, 1828
Serranus assabensis Giglioli, 1889
Serranus geoffroyi Klunzinger, 1870
Serranus areolatus japonicus Temminck & Schlegel, 1842
Serranus celebicus multipunctatus Kossman & Räuber, 1877
Serranus reevesii Richardson, 1846
Serranus tauvina (non Forsskål, 1775)

Other names

= Brown-spotted Reef-cod

Least Concern LC


Body depth contained 2.8 to 3.3 times in standard length (for fish 12 to 51 cm standard length); body width contained 1.8 to 2.2 times in the depth. Head length contained 2.4 to 2.7 times in standard length; interorbital slightly convex; preopercle angular, with 4 to 7 enlarged serrae at angle; upper edge of operculum straight; posterior nostrils not noticeably larger than anterior nostrils; maxilla reaches about to vertical at rear edge of eye; maxilla scaly, with a low step on posterior part of ventral edge; midlateral part of lower jaw with 2 to 4 rows of teeth, the inner ones about twice the size of outer teeth. Gill rakers 8 to 11 on upper limb, 15 to 18 on lower limb, 23 to 29 total; gill rakers longer than gill filaments. Dorsal fin with XI spines and 16 to 18 rays, the third or fourth spine longest, its length contained 2.4 to 3.2 times in head length, the interspinous membranes slightly to moderately incised; anal fin rounded or angular, with III spines and 8 rays, the third spine longer than second; pectoral-fin rays 17 to 19; pectoral fins usually slightly longer than pelvic fins, pectoral-fin length contained 1.6 to 2.0 times in head length; pelvic-fin length contained 1.8 to 2.3 times in head length; caudal-peduncle depth contained 3.0 to 3.6 times in head length; caudal fin truncate or slightly emarginate. Lateral-body scales ctenoid, with auxiliary scales; lateral-line scales 48 to 53; lateral-scale series 96 to 122. Pyloric caeca 26 to 52.
Colour: Head, body, and fins with small, irregular, close-set dark brown spots, the ground colour forming a pale network; caudal fin usually with a white line along rear margin; spots on pectoral fins mainly confined to rays.


E. chlorostigma occurs from the Red Sea and east coast of Africa (south to Natal, South Africa) to the western Pacific (from southern Japan to New Caledonia); confirmed records also include the western Gulf of Aden (Djibouti and Aden), Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles, Chagos Islands, Maldives, Lakshadweep Islands, Andaman Islands, Nicobar Islands, Viet Nam, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Papua New Guinea, New Ireland, Caroline Islands, American Samoa, and Fiji. The wide distribution of E. chlorostigma has some puzzling gaps. There are no verifiable records from the Comoros, the continental shelf between Oman and Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Australia. Records from the Persian Gulf (Randall et al., 1978; Kuronuma and Abe, 1986) are apparently misidentifications of E. polylepis.


This species is found on coral reefs and also (in the South China Sea) on mud bottoms. The depth range is 4 to 280 m. According to Morgans (1982), maturity is attained at about 25 cm standard length. E. chlorostigma feeds on fishes and crustaceans (mainly stomatopods and crabs). Reproduction of E. chlorostigma at the Seychelles was studied by de Moussac (1986): females are mature at 23 to 29 cm total length, and sexual transition occurs between 35 and 45 cm, but all females do not change sex.


Attains at least 75 cm total length and a weight of 7 kg.


The Epinephelus chlorostigma species-complex comprises 3 closely-related species that are characterized by their truncate or emarginate caudal fin, colour pattern of small close-set dark brown spots covering all but ventral parts of head and body and all of the fins, preopercle subangular with serrae not much enlarged at the angle, gill arches with numerous small platelets, operculum with a straight upper edge, and 2 rows of teeth on sides of lower jaw. The other two species of this complex, E. gabriellae and E. polylepis, were described as new species by Randall and Heemstra (1991). These two species seem to replace E. chlorostigma in the northwestern Indian Ocean (including the Persian Gulf). E. gabriellae has fewer dorsal-fin rays (14 or 15), more elongate body (depth contained 3.2 to 3.6 times in standard length), more slender caudal peduncle (peduncle depth contained 3.5 to 3.9 times in head length) and slight differences in colour pattern (margins of soft dorsal and anal fins and upper and lower margins of caudal fin with white edge; pectoral fins spotted only basally). E. polylepis has smaller, more numerous scales (lateral-line 65 to 72, lateral-scale series 126 to 137) and a more rounded anal fin in adults (second or third spine longest, its length contained 2.1 to 2.5 times in head length).


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 [5524]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/8479]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Epinephelus chlorostigma (Valenciennes, 1828)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [132823]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Epinephelus chlorostigma (Valenciennes, 1828)]
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 chlorostigma (Valenciennes, 1828)]
Data retrieved on: 19 August 2019

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