Taxon profile


One-blotch Grouper
Epinephelus melanostigma Schultz, 1953

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

Data Deficient DD


Body elongate, the depth contained 3.0 to 3.4 times in standard length (for fish 10 to 27 cm standard length). Head length contained 2.2 to 2.4 times in standard length; interorbital area flat or slightly concave; preopercle rounded, the serrae mostly covered by skin; upper edge of operculum straight or slightly convex; nostrils subequal; maxilla reaches past vertical at rear edge of eye; midlateral part of lower jaw with 3 to 5 rows of teeth, the inner teeth about twice as long as the outer ones. Gill rakers 7 to 10 on upper limb, 16 to 19 on lower limb. Dorsal fin with XI spines and 14 to 16 rays, the third to tenth spines subequal, the fourth spine 2.8 to 3.8 times in head length, the interspinous membranes incised; anal fin with III spines and 8 rays, the second spine less than or subequal to third spine, length of second spine contained 2.6 to 3.6 times in head length and usually less than depth of caudal peduncle; pectoral-fin rays 17 to 19; pectoral-fin length contained 1.6 to 2.2 times in head length; pelvic-fin length 2.0 to 2.6 times in head length; caudal-peduncle depth contained 3.2 to 3.8 times in head length; caudal fin rounded. Lateral-body scales ctenoid, with numerous auxiliary scales; lateral-line scales 56 to 68; lateral-scale series 83 to 99.
Colour: Head, body, and fins covered with close-set dark brown spots, the pale interspaces forming a network pattern; spots on ventral parts of head and body are reddish brown and not so closely set; spots on head progressively smaller anteriorly; a prominent black blotch on body at base of last 4 dorsal-fin spines and extending onto fin at least halfway to margin; no other black blotches at base of dorsal fin or on caudal peduncle; median and pectoral fins with narrow white edge.


Indo-West Pacific from South Africa (Natal) to the central Pacific, including, Mozambique, Mauritius, Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Okinawa, Papua New Guinea (Bougainville), Solomon Islands, Palau, Caroline Islands, Gilbert Islands, Samoa, Phoenix Islands, Baker, Howland, Cook Islands, and Line Islands. The apparent absence of E. melanostigma at intermediate localities may be a result of confusion with similar species (e.g., E. tauvina). Paxton et al. (1989) recorded the species from Australia, but Heemstra and Randall (1993) have not seen any material from there. Not known from the Red Sea or Persian Gulf.


E. melanostigma is a coral-reef species that is known only from depths less than 7 m. However, the specimen illustrated by Gloerfelt-Tarp and Kailola (1984) was taken in a trawl, and it was presumably caught somewhat deeper than 7 m.


Maximum size known is 33 cm total length.

Interchangeable taxa

E. melanostigma is one of the “reticulated groupers”, which comprise 9 shallow-water coral-reef species that have a rounded caudal fin and close-set dark brown spots, with the pale interspaces forming a network on the body. These species have been much confused in the literature, and many museum specimens have been misidentified; the other reticulated groupers differ from E. melanostigma as follows:

E. bilobatus has 3 large bilobed dark blotches or close-set pairs of dark brown spots on body and base of dorsal fin, dorsal-fin rays 17 or 18, lateral-line scales 48 to 52, and lower gill rakers 14 to 16.

E. faveatus has the lateral-body scales smooth (except for area covered by pectoral fins), dorsal-fin rays 16 to 18, length of second anal-fin spine contained 3.6 to 4.3 times in head length, and sides of lower jaw with 2 rows of teeth.

E. hexagonatus has conspicuous white dots on the body between the dark spots, fifth to ninth dorsal-fin spines subequal (length contained 2.5 to 2.8 times in head length), head length contained 2.5 to 2.6 times in standard length, length of second anal-fin spine contained 2.1 to 2.5 times in head length and distinctly longer than third spine or depth of caudal peduncle.

E. macrospilos has the lateral-body scales mostly smooth, lateral-line scales 48 to 52, and no large black blotch at middle of dorsal-fin base.

E. maculatus has the dorsal-fin membranes not incised between the spines; third or fourth dorsal-fin spine longest, its length contained 2.1 to 2.6 times in head length and usually longer than dorsal-fin rays.

E. merra has pectoral fins covered with small black spots largely confined to the rays, third to last dorsal-fin spines subequal (the longest contained 2.6 to 2.9 times in head length), and second anal-fin spine subequal to third and much longer than depth of caudal peduncle.

E. quoyanus has the pectoral fins’with indistinct dark brown spots, the base with a large semicircular dark brown spot edged posteriorly with white, 2 dark brown bands or blotches linked by bands on sides of chest, dorsal-fin rays 16 to 18, and longest dorsal-fin spine contained 2.4 to 3.0 times in head length.

E. spilotoceps has 3 black saddle blotches at base of dorsal fin and tiny (nostril size) black spots on the snout; caudal-peduncle depth contained 3.5 to 4.1 times in head length and usually less than length of second anal-fin spine, shallow notch in rear edge of preopercle just above the corner, and lateral-line scales 59 to 69.

E. tauvina is similar to E. melanostigma in having a black blotch at middle of dorsal-fin base, but the dark spots on the head and body are poorly defined and well separated (distance between spots about equal to their diameter); E. tauvina also has 63 to 74 lateral-line scales and 95 to 112 lateral-scale series.


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 [6471]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/8493]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Epinephelus melanostigma Schultz, 1953]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [132746]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Epinephelus melanostigma Schultz, 1953]
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 melanostigma Schultz, 1953]
Data retrieved on: 19 August 2019

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