Taxon profile


Coral Grouper
Epinephelus corallicola (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 corallicola Valenciennes, 1828
Serranus altivelioides Bleeker, 1849

Other names

= Coral Rock-cod
= Coral Rockcod

Data Deficient DD


Body depth less than head length, depth contained 2.7 to 3.2 times in standard length (for fish 9 to 35 cm standard length). Head length contained 2.3 to 2.5 times in standard length; head pointed, the interorbital area flat, and the dorsal head profile almost straight; preopercle rounded, finely serrate, with slight notch; upper edge of operculum convex; posterior nostrils vertically elongated in fish larger than 15 cm standard length, its length 5 or 6 times larger than diameter of anterior nostrils; maxilla reaches about to 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 4 to 6 rows of teeth (2 or 3 rows in juveniles). Gill rakers 8 to 10 on upper limb, 14 to 17 on lower limb (with 7 to 10 developed rakers on lower limb); gill rakers shorter than gill filaments; gill raker at angle of first arch subequal to adjacent rakers. Dorsal fin with XI spines and 15 to 17 rays, the third or fourth spine longest, its length contained 2.8 to 3.8 times in head length, the interspinous membranes moderately incised; anal fin with III spines and 8 rays; pectoral-fin rays 17 to 20; pectoral-fin length contained 1.5 to 1.8 times in head length; pelvic fins not reaching past anus, their length contained 1.9 to 2.4 times in head length; caudal fin rounded. Lateral-body scales ctenoid (smooth in large adults), with auxiliary scales; lateral-line scales 53 to 63; lateral-scale series 88 to 109. Pyloric caeca 9 to 13.
Colour: Head and body brownish to greenish grey; widely spaced small black spots over all of head, body and fins; 3 dark blotches on body at base of dorsal fin, the first (at base of last 2 or 3 dorsal-fin spines) largest and most distinct; dark saddle blotch on caudal peduncle; black streak hidden by upper edge of maxilla when mouth is closed; white line usually present along rear edge of median and pectoral fins. Juveniles 3 to 6 cm standard length with prominent white spots on head, body, and fins, those on head and body with black edges (especially along dorsal and ventral edges of white spots) or 2 contiguous black spots at upper and lower edges of white spots; juveniles 7 to 10 cm with black edges dividing to form 2 to 4 black spots as white spots become fainter; juveniles of 13 or 14 cm with white spots almost completely faded.


Western Pacific from Thailand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan to Australia (Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales) and eastward to the Solomon and Mariana Islands, including Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and Belau. The colour photograph of “Epinephelus corallicola” reported from Japan by Katayama (1988) is of E. howlandi. The record from Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean (Allen and Steene, 1979) is based on McKay’s (1974) mistaken placement of E. spilotoceps in the synonymy of E. corallicola.


Shallow silty reefs and estuarine areas. The ovary was well developed in a fish of 30 cm standard length that Heemstra and Randall (1993) examined.


Attains at least 49 cm total length.

Interchangeable taxa

Adults are often misidentified as E. macrospilos, which differ in having the dark spots on body larger and more closely set, the lower jaw projecting, and the rear nostrils not vertically elongated; also, the juveniles of E. macrospilos do not have white spots. E. corallicola is compared with E. coeruleopunctatus in the “Interchangeable Taxa” of that species Taxon description. E. howlandi differs in lacking dark spots on the belly, chest and underside of head; posterior nostrils not vertically elongated: and the juveniles do not have white spots.


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 [6466]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/8453]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Epinephelus corallicola (Valenciennes, 1828)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [132763]

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

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