Taxon profile


Brown-spotted Grouper
Epinephelus coioides 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

Bola coioides Hamilton, 1822
Epinephelus coiodes (Hamilton, 1822)
Homalogrystes guntheri Alleyne & Macleay, 1877
Serranus nebulosus Valenciennes, 1828
Epinephelus nebulosus (Valenciennes, 1828)
Cephalopholis nebulosus (Valenciennes, 1828)
Serranus suillus Valenciennes, 1828
Epinephelus suillus (Valenciennes, 1828)

Other names

= Estuary Cod
= Estuary Grouper
= Estuary Rock Cod
= Estuary Rockcod
= Green Grouper
= Orange-spotted Grouper

Near Threatened NT


Epinephelus coioides - Brown-spotted Grouper

Author: Pavel Zuber

Epinephelus coioides - Brown-spotted Grouper

Author: Pavel Zuber

Epinephelus coioides - Brown-spotted Grouper

Author: Pavel Zuber

Epinephelus coioides - Brown-spotted Grouper

Author: Pavel Zuber


Body elongate, the depth contained 2.9 to 3.7 times in standard length (for fish 10 to 78 cm standard length); body width contained 1.4 to 2.0 times in the depth. Head length contained 2.3 to 2.6 times in standard length; snout length contained 1.8 to 1.9 times in upper-jaw length; interorbital flat or slightly convex, interorbital width contained 5.0 to 6.2 times in head length and 2.1 to 3.2 times in upper-jaw length; preopercle subangular, with enlarged serrae at the angle and a broad shallow notch just above the angle; upper edge of operculum straight or somewhat convex; nostrils subequal; maxilla reaches to or slightly past a vertical at rear edge of eye, maxilla width 4.2 to 5.5% of standard length; upper-jaw length 17 to 20% of standard length, midlateral part of lower jaw with 2 or 3 rows of subequal teeth. Gill rakers 8 to 10 on upper limb, 14 to 17 on lower limb, 23 to 26 total; adults with small bony platelets on lateral side of first gill arch. Dorsal fin with XI spines and 14 to 16 rays, the third or fourth spine longest, in length 2.9 to 4.0 times in head length, the interspinous membranes distinctly incised; anal fin with III spines and 8 rays, the third spine usually longer than the second; the fin margin rounded; pectoral-fin length contained 1.6 to 2.2 times in head length; pectoral-fin rays 18 to 20; pelvic-fin length contained 1.9 to 2.7 times in head length; caudal fin rounded. Lateral-body scales ctenoid, with minute auxiliary scales; lateral-line scales 58 to 65; lateral-line tubes of anterior scales branched in adults; lateral-scale series 100 to 118. Pyloric caeca numerous (about 50 to 60).
Colour: Head and body tan dorsally, shading to whitish ventrally; numerous small brownish orange or reddish brown spots on head, body, and median fins; body with 5 faint, irregular, oblique, dark bars which bifurcate ventrally; first dark bar below anterior dorsal-fin spines, last bar on caudal peduncle; 2 dark spots on interopercle and another 1 or 2 at junction of sub- and interopercles. Orange spots turn brown on exposure to air and become fainter (more diffuse) in preservative.


E. coioides occurs from the Red Sea south to at least Durban and east to the western Pacific, where it ranges from the Ryukyu Islands to Australia and eastwards to Palau and Fiji. Other localities include the Persian Gulf, India, Réunion, Mauritius, Ahdaman Islands, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Ben-Tuvia and Lourie (1969) reported a 420 mm specimen of “Epinephelus tauvina” from the Mediterranean coast of Israel. Without further discussion of this fish, Randall and Ben-Tuvia (1983) changed this identification to “E. malabaricus” (Note: the account of E. malabaricus in this paper is a composite of E. coioides and E. malabaricus). In the original description of this specimen, Ben-Tuvia and Lourie (1969:246) state “Head and body covered with bright orange spots more or less regularly dispersed ...".which would rule out E. malabaricus. In addition to the colour pattern, the meristic and morphometric data given by Ben-Tuvia and Lourie also fit E. coioides better than E. tauvina. Their specimen, now deposited at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was reexamined by P.C. Heemstra and identified as E. coioides. Thanks to Dr Adam Ben-Tuvia, Heemstra and Randall (1993) recently examined a 221 mm specimen of E. coioides that was collected in Haifa Bay in October 1981.


E. coioides is known from continental shores and large islands. It is often found in estuaries, and is also taken offshore to depths of 100 m. Reported stomach contents include fishes, shrimps, crabs and 1 adult cuttlefish (Sepia sp.). Age, growth and reproduction were studied by Mathews et al. (1986) in the Persian Gulf, where E. coioides (misidentified as “Epinephelus tauvina”, which does not occur there) has been used in aquaculture trials. The major spawning period is from March to June. Females are mature at 25 to 30 cm total length (2 or 3 years old), and sexual transition occurs as a length of 55 to 75 cm. Fecundity estimates were 850 186 ova for a fish of 35 cm and 2 904 912 ova for one of 62 cm. The eggs are pelagic, and the best survival of larvae was attained at a temperature of 30°C and salinity of 39%o.


Attains at least 95 cm total length.

Interchangeable taxa

As implied by the numerous misidentifications mentioned above, E. coioides is often mistaken for E. malabaricus and E. tauvina. The colour patterns of all 3 species are similar, but the dark spots of E. malabaricus are smaller, blackish brown (not reddish brown or brownish orange, as on E. coioides), and remain distinct in preservative; E. malabaricus also has irregular white spots on the head and body (no white spots on E. coioides). E. tauvina often has a black blotch (larger than eye) on body at base of last 4 dorsal-fin spines and extending onto lower part of fin, and juveniles have the dark spots on the median fins so close set that the intervening pale spaces appear as a pale reticulum; E. tauvina also has a longer jaw (upper jaw length 21 to 24% of standard length, versus 17 to 20% in E. coioides), usually more gill rakers (17 to 20 on lower limb, versus 14 to 17 in E. coioides), and no small bony platelets on lateral side of first gill arch. A more detailed comparison for these 3 species is given in the Taxon description of E. malabaricus.


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 [6465]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/8452]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Epinephelus coioides (Hamilton, 1822)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [44674]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Epinephelus coioides (Hamilton, 1822)]
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 coioides (Hamilton, 1822)]
Data retrieved on: 19 August 2019

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