Taxon profile


Convict Grouper
Hyporthodus mystacinus (Poey, 1852)

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

Serranus mystacinus Poey, 1852
Epinephelus mystacinus (Poey, 1852)

Other names

= Misty Grouper

Least Concern LC


Body depth 2.4 to 2.9 times in standard length (for fish 14 to 40 cm standard length). Head length contained 2.3 to 2.5 times in standard length; interorbital area convex: eye diameter greater than interorbital width for fish less than 30 cm standard length, but less than interorbital in fish greater than 40 cm standard length; preopercle corner rounded, with enlarged serrae, the lower edge with 1 or 2 small serrae (usually hidden by skin) just in front of corner; interopercle and subopercle serrate; posterior nostrils greatly enlarged, their diameter 4 or more times that of anterior nostrils. Gill rakers 8 to 10 on upper limb and 1 4 to 16 on lower limb, total 22 to 26. Dorsal fin with XI spines and 14 or 15 rays, the third spine longest and the membranes distinctly incised between the spines; anal fin with III spines and 9 (rarely 8) rays; pectoral-fin rays 18 or 19; pelvic fins shorter than pectoral fins and inserted slightly in front of lower end of pectoral-fin base; pelvic fins not reaching anus (except on fish less than 16 cm standard length); caudal fin rounded. Body scales distinctly ctenoid, without auxiliary scales; lateral-line scales 58 to 69; lateral-scale series 99 to 112. Pyloric caeca very numerous.
Colour: Head and body buff, with 8 or 9 dark, subvertical bars on body, the first on nape, the last two (which are darker than other bars) may be fused to form a wide dark band around caudal peduncle; width of dark body bars equal to or less than width of pale interspaces; dark bars faint on large adults. Pelvic fins blackish brown. Prominent blackish brown maxillary streak on cheek along upper edge of maxilla.


Western Atlantic: Bermuda, North Carolina, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas, Cuba, Yucatan, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Leeward Islands to Trinidad.
Eastern Pacific: Galapagos.
Johnson and Keener (1984) questioned the locality of Seale’s (1940) record of a 40 mm H. mystacinus from the Galapagos, because there were no other records of the species from the Pacific. But Heemstra and Randall (1993) have examined a 108 mm juvenile (LACM 44012-2) collected in June 1984 at lsabela Island in the Galapagos by Jack Grove. Katayama (1975, 1988) reported “Epinephelus (Hyporthodus) mystacinus” from Japan, but this was based on misidentification of Epinephelus octofasciatus, which has more scales (lateral-scale series 114 to 126), the pelvic fins subequal to or longer than the pectoral fins, and the dark body bars wider than the pale interspaces.


A deep-water species reported from depths of 100 to 400 m; juveniles occasionally found in water as shallow as 30 m. Like most groupers, it is a generalized carnivore, feeding on fishes, crustaceans, and squids. Virtually nothing is known of the age, growth, or reproduction of this species; females attain at least 100 cm.

Interchangeable taxa

H. septemfasciatus of Japan differs from H. mystacinus in having the dark body bars wider than the pale interspaces, and the broad dark bar covering the caudal peduncle extends over the last 2 or 3 dorsal-fin rays.


Attains at least 115 cm total length and over 54 kg.


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 [1206]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/8500]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Hyporthodus mystacinus (Poey, 1852)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [132827]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Hyporthodus mystacinus (Poey, 1852)]
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 Hyporthodus mystacinus (Poey, 1852)]
Data retrieved on: 19 August 2019

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