Taxon profile


Haifa Grouper
Hyporthodus haifensis (Ben-Tuvia, 1953)

kingdom Animalia - animals »  phylum Chordata - chordates »  class Actinopterygii - ray-finned fishes »  order Perciformes - perch-likes »  family Serranidae - sea basses and groupers »  genus Hyporthodus

Scientific synonyms

Epinephelus haifensis Ben-Tuvia, 1953
Perca gigas Brünnich, 1768
Holocentrus merou Lacépède, 1802

Data Deficient DD


Body depth contained 2.4 to 2.8 times in standard length (for fish 10 to 39 cm standard length). Head length contained 2.2 to 2.4 times in standard length; interorbital area convex; eye diameter greater than interorbital width in fish less than 30 cm standard length, distinctly less than interorbital width in a fish of 39 cm standard length; preopercle subangular, with the serrae at angle enlarged, and 1 to 6 small serrae (usually covered by skin) on lower edge; rear nostrils 2 or 3 times larger than front ones; maxilla naked, not reaching posterior to eye; midlateral part of lower jaw with 2 rows of teeth, the inner teeth distinctly larger than outer teeth. Gill rakers 7 to 10 on upper limb, 13 to 15 on lower limb, total 20 to 25. Dorsal fin with XI spines and 14 or 15 rays, the third or fourth spine longest, the interspinous membranes deeply incised; anal fin with III spines and 9 rays; pectoral-fin rays 18 to 21, the fin length contained 1.4 to 1.9 times in head length; pelvic fins subequal to pectoral fins, reaching to or beyond anus; caudal fin rounded. Body scales distinctly ctenoid, without auxiliary scales; lateral-line scales 64 to 75; lateral-scale series 104 to 112. Pyloric caeca very numerous, forming a large dendritic mass.
Colour: Head and body dark brown; soft dorsal, caudal, and anal fins blackish distally (where there are no scales), the basal (scaly) part of these fins not so dark; caudal and pectoral fins with white edge; pelvic fins blackish; prominent black streak on cheek at upper edge of maxilla.


Eastern Mediterranean to southern Angola (14ºS). Heemstra and Randall (1993) have examined specimens from the coasts of Israel, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroun, Congo, and Angola.


Found on bottoms of mud, sand, or rock in depths of 90 to 220 m (Poll, 1954).


According to Poll (1954), E. haifensis (identified as “E. gigas”) attains 110 cm total length and a weight of 25 kg.

Interchangeable taxa

In the literature on Mediterranean and west African groupers (Cadenat, 1935; Tortonese, 1970; Bauchot and Pras, 1980; etc.) E. haifensis may have been confused with E. marginatus under the name of “Epinephelus guaza” or “Epinephelus gigas.” Although Heemstra and Randall (1993) have examined only 19 specimens of E. haifensis, they all have 9 anal-fin rays; whereas, 79 of the 80 specimens of E. marginatus that Heemstra and Randall (1993) have seen have 8 anal-fin rays. Consequently, references to E. guaza with 8 or 9 anal-fin rays could apply to both species. The species described as Perca gigas by Brünnich (1768) may be the same as E. haifensis, but the pectoral-fin count of 16 given by Brünnich is too low, and the colour description (“corporis ochraceus, obscuro fuscoque nebulosus; caput subtus rubrum ut + pinnae pectorales extrorsum.” [body yellowish, with indistinct dark blotches; lower part of head and margin of pectoral fins reddish]) is more similar to the colour pattern of E. marginatus. Without a type specimen, Perca gigas is probably best regarded as a nomen dubium. The stuffed holotype of Cerna sicana Doderlein from Sicily has only X dorsal-fin spines. Tortonese (1956) redescribed this specimen and concluded that it was not the western Atlantic species E. nigritus, which normally has X dorsal-fin spines. Except for having only X dorsal-fin spines, this specimen fits the description of E. haifensis given above. Cerna sicana may represent a rare species with X dorsal-fin spines that is known from only a single specimen, but it seems more likely that this holotype is simply an abnormal specimen of E. haifensis. Since Heemstra and Randall (1993) are reluctant to use E. sicana as the valid name for a species that normally has XI dorsal-fin spines, Heemstra and Randall (1993) here accept Epinephelus haifensis as the valid name for this species.


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 [9262]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/8473]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Epinephelus haifensis Ben-Tuvia, 1953]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [132828]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Hyporthodus haifensis (Ben-Tuvia, 1953)]
Data retrieved on: 3 September 2019
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 haifensis Ben-Tuvia, 1953]
Data retrieved on: 19 August 2019

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