Taxon profile


Black-spotted Grouper
Epinephelus epistictus (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 epistictus Temminck & Schlegel, 1842
Epinephelus episticus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1842)
Serranus praeopercularis Boulenger, 1888
Epinephelus praeopercularis (Boulenger, 1888)
Epinephelus stigmogrammacus Cheng & Yang, 1983

Other names

= Black-spotted Rockcod
= Broken-line Grouper
= Brown Rockcod
= Dotted Grouper

Data Deficient DD


Body depth contained 3.0 to 3.3 times in standard length (for fish 12 to 50 cm standard length). Head length contained 2.2 to 2.5 times in standard length; interorbital area and dorsal head profile slightly convex; preopercle angle produced, with 3 to 5 distinctly enlarged serrae; upper edge of operculum straight or slightly convex; anterior and posterior nostrils of adults subequal or rear nostrils about twice as large as anterior nostrils; maxilla reaches to, almost to, or slightly past vertical at rear edge of eye; adults with a step or abrupt bend on ventral edge of maxilla; midlateral part of lower jaw with 2 rows of teeth, the inner ones slightly larger. Gill rakers 7 to 10 on upper limb, 15 to 19 on lower limb; length of longest gill raker subequal to longest gill filaments. Dorsal fin with XI spines and 14 or 15 rays, the third or fourth spine longest, usually shorter than longest ray, the interspinous membranes deeply incised; anal fin with III spines and 8 rays; pectoral-fin rays 17 to 19; pectoral-fin length contained 1.6 to 2.1 times in head length; pelvic fins end well short of anus, their length contained 2.0 to 2.6 times in head length: caudal fin slightly to moderately rounded. Lateral-body scales ctenoid, with a few auxiliary scales in adults; lateral-line scales 57 to 70; lateral-scale series 105 to 127. Pyloric caeca 7 to 10.
Colour: Head and body pale brownish or greenish grey, with conspicuous, small, brownish black spots on dorsolateral part of body, rear part of head, and on median fins; some specimens with faint dark band from eye to end of operculum, another from eye to notch of preopercle, and third a continuation of maxillary streak; pectoral-fin rays brownish, the membranes clear. Juveniles with dark spots on head and body arranged in 3 longitudinal rows. Indian Ocean specimens are usually coloured as follows: Head, body, and fins brown or olive; faint brownish black dots usually visible on dorsolateral part of body and sometimes on postorbital part of head; dark brown maxillary streak present; some specimens with a row of faint dark spots along middle of soft dorsal fin, and a faint pale submarginal band or row of faint pale spots immediately distal to these dark spots; adults from South Africa dark brown, with pale or white edge on soft dorsal, anal, and “corners” of caudal fin. Juveniles with faint dark brown stripe from eye to end of operculum, another darker stripe from lower edge of eye to subopercle and a third continuing from maxillary streak to interopercle; pectoral-fin rays brown or greyish yellow, the membranes clear.


E. epistictus is known from continental localities in the tropical Indo-West Pacific region. Heemstra and Randall (1993) examined specimens from the Gulf of Suez, Red Sea, Ethiopia, Zanzibar, Mozambique, South Africa (Natal), Oman, west coast of India, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong China (Fujian Province), Viet Nam, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and northern Australia. The species has also been reported from Kenya, Korea, and the Ogasawara Islands.


Rocky and trawlable bottoms in depths of 71 to 290 m. Nothing has been published on the biology of E. epistictus.


Maximum size about 80 cm total length (7 kg).

Interchangeable taxa

Specimens of E. epistictus from the Indian Ocean usually have fewer lateral-line scales (55 to 66) compared with fish from Japan and Taiwan (65 to 70), but one from Viet Nam and another from Indonesia have counts of 62 and 59. Specimens from the Indian Ocean also have smaller spots than those in the western Pacific and they are usually absent on the median fins. E. heniochus is similar to E. epistictus, but it has fewer lateral-scale series (89 to 100) the dark spots on the body (if present) are faint and smaller than nostrils and the fins are unspotted; also the juveniles do not have 3 longitudinal rows of dark spots on head and body. The illustration of a juvenile “Epinephelus epistictus” by Heemstra and Randall (1984) is of a juvenile E. latifasciatus.


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 [7341]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/8460]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Epinephelus epistictus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1842)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [132824]

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

Contributions to BioLib

Help us to expand this encyclopedia! If you are logged in, you can add new subtaxa, vernacular and scientific names, texts, images or intertaxon relationships for this taxon.