Taxon profile


Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus (Bloch, 1790)

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

Holocentrus coeruleopunctatus Bloch, 1790
Serranus alboguttatus Valenciennes, 1828
Epinephelus caeruleopunctatus (Bloch, 1790)
Epinephelus caerulopunctatus (Bloch, 1790)
Serranus dermochirus Valenciennes, 1830
Serranus flavoguttatus Peters, 1855
Serranus hoevenii Bleeker, 1849
Epinephelus hoevenii (Bleeker, 1849)
Serranus kunhardtii Bleeker, 1851

Other names

= Ocellated Rock-cod
= Rock Cod
= White-spotted Grouper
= White-spotted Reef-cod
= White-spotted Rockcod
= Whitespotted Grouper

Least Concern LC


Body depth distinctly less than head length, depth contained 2.9 to 3.4 times in standard length (for fish 11 to 47 cm standard length). Head length contained 2.3 to 2.5 times in standard length; head pointed, the interorbital area usually flat (sometimes concave or slightly convex), and the dorsal profile almost straight; preopercle rounded, finely serrate; opercular spines inconspicuous; upper edge of operculum straight, sinuous or slightly convex; in fish more than 35 cm standard length, the posterior nostril becomes vertically elongated, its length 5 or 6 times greater than diameter of front nostrils; maxilla reaches short of or slightly beyond vertical at rear edge of eye; maxilla naked, mostly covered by upper lip; canines at front of jaws small or absent; midlateral part of lower jaw with 3 to 5 rows of small teeth. Gill rakers 8 to 10 on upper limb, 13 to 17 on lower limb; fish larger than 20 cm standard length with only 4 to 8 developed rakers on lower limb, and the rudiments are difficult to count because of intercalated bony tooth plates; gill rakers shorter than gill filaments, the raker at angle of gill arch about twice as long as adjacent rakers.Dorsal fin with XI spines and 15 to 17 rays, the third or fourth spine longest, its length contained 2.7 to 3.6 times in head length, the interspinous membranes incised; anal fin with III spines and 8 rays; pectoral fins large and fleshy, with 17 to 19 rays; pectoral-fin length contained 1.5 to 2.1 times in head length; pelvic fins end well short of anus, their length contained 2.0 to 2.7 times in head length; caudal fin rounded. Lateral-body scales ctenoid (1 fish, 43 cm standard length, with “mostly smooth” lateral-body scales), with auxiliary scales; lateral-line scales 51 to 61; lateral-scale series 86 to 109.
Colour: Adults brownish grey, the body covered with small pale spots overlain with large pale blotches; oblique black saddle on rear half of peduncle; 4 or 5 indistinct black blotches at base of dorsal fin; prominent black streak on maxillary groove. Large adults (over 40 cm standard length) brownish, covered with indistinct, contiguous, small pale spots. Juveniles (less than 20 cm standard length) dark grey to black, covered with prominent pupil-size white spots and smaller white dots.


E. coeruleopunctatus is a widely-distributed species that ranges from the east coast of Africa (south to East London, South Africa) to Fiji in the central Pacific. It is not known from the Red Sea (where it is replaced by the endemic Epinephelus summana), but it does occur in the Persian Gulf. Heemstra and Randall (1993) have examined specimens from South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, Madagascar, Seychelles, Chagos Islands, India, Sri Lanka, Nicobars, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea, Australia (Queensland and New South Wales), Palau, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Caroline Islands, Marshall Islands, Gilbert Islands (Kiribati), and Fiji. Reliable records indicate that the species is also known from Japan, Ogasawara Islands, Lakshadweep Islands, and the Maldives. The record from northwestern Australia (Allen and Swainston, 1988) is doubtful; Heemstra and Randall (1993) found no specimens of E. coeruleopunctatus in the Western Australian Museum, but Heemstra and Randall (1993) did find a few specimens of E. corallicola that were misidentified as E. coeruleopunctatus.


Coral reefs, usually in or near caves. Juveniles are found in tidepools.


The largest specimen that Heemstra and Randall (1993) have seen is 59 cm total length (47 cm standard length). According to Grant (1982), this species attains 76 cm total length.

Interchangeable taxa

E. coeruleopunctatus is closely related to (and often confused with) three other whitespotted species: E. ongus, E. summana, and E. corallicola. Adults of E. ongus also have a pattern of pale spots and blotches and a prominent black maxillary streak; but the white spots tend to form irregular longitudinal bands on the body, and the soft dorsal, caudal, and anal fins have a blackish brown margin with a narrow white edge. The juveniles (less than 15 cm standard length) have close-set, uniformly small white spots covering the body and most of the median fins; but E.. coeruleopunctactus juveniles have scattered, prominent, irregular, white spots of various sizes, with only a few on the median fins. There are also significant meristic differences between these two species: E. ongus has 15 to 17 pectoral-fin rays, usually 15 dorsal-fin rays, and 48 to 53 lateral-line scales. And in E. ongus the upper edge of the operculum is very convex, in contrast to the nearly straight or slightly convex margin of E. coeruleopunctatus. E. summana has the body and median fins dark brown or brownish grey, covered with very small white spots: superimposed on the body are several pale brown blotches. E. summana also has fewer dorsal- and pectoral-fin rays (14 to 16 and 16 to 18 respectively) and lateral-line scales (49 to 54). The shape of the upper edge of the operculum is intermediate between E. coeruleopunctatus and E. ongus. Adults of E. corallicola do not have white spots, but the juveniles have large, prominent, black-edged white spots. In addition to colour pattern, E. corallicola also differs in having the rear nostrils noticeably elongated at a smaller size (15 cm standard length, versus 35 cm standard length in E. coeruleopunctatus). The morphometric and meristic features of these two species are very similar, and the “gestalt” (ignoring the colour pattern) of these two species is identical.


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 [6440]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/8451]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus (Bloch, 1790)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [132751]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus (Bloch, 1790)]
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 coeruleopunctatus (Bloch, 1790)]
Data retrieved on: 19 August 2019

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