Taxon profile


Hyporthodus niphobles (Gilbert & Starks, 1897)

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 niphobles Gilbert & Starks, 1897
Epinephelus peruanus Chirichigno F., 1963

Data Deficient DD


Body depth contained 2.3 to 2.7 times in standard length (for fish 14 to 47 cm standard length). Head length contained 2.2 to 2.5 times in standard length; interorbital convex, the width subequal to eye diameter for fish 5 to 22 cm standard length and greater than eye diameter for fish larger than 30 cm standard length; corner of preopercle slightly produced, with enlarged serrae; some specimens with a tiny spine (hidden by skin) on ventral edge of preopercle; upper edge of operculum distinctly convex; posterior nostrils vertically elongate, 2 to 5 times larger than anterior ones; maxilla reaches to or beyond vertical at rear edge of eye; midlateral part of lower jaw with 2 rows of teeth. Gill rakers 8 to 9 on upper limb, 15 to 17 on lower limb, total 23 to 26. Dorsal fin with XI spines, and 13 to 15 rays, the second spine longest in adults, and the membranes deeply incised between the spines: anal fin with III spines and 9 rays; pectoral-fin rays 17 to 21 (mean = 19.1); pelvic-fin origin below or anterior to pectoral-fin base; pectoral fins subequal to pelvic fins, pectoral-fin length contained 1.6 to 2.1 times in head length; caudal fin convex in juveniles, truncate in adults. Midlateral-body scales rough, no auxiliary scales; lateral-line scales 63 to 71; lateral-scale series, 100 to 106.
Colour: Juveniles (5 to 15 cm) dark reddish brown with white spots in a grid-like pattern of vertical series and horizontal rows on body and dorsal fin; dark saddle blotch usually visible on caudal peduncle; caudal and pectoral fins pale (yellow in life?); anal and pelvic fins dark brown; maxillary groove black. Adults dark brown, without white spots.


H. niphobles is an eastern Pacific species known from southern California to Peru.


According to Thomson et al. “This deep-water grouper is often caught in shrimp trawls in the central Gulf.”


Attains at least 48 cm standard length, probably much larger.

Interchangeable taxa

H. niphobles is most similar to H. niveatus of the western Atlantic and Caribbean. The colour pattern of the juveniles is virtually identical; and the meristic data are the same, except for the pectoral-fin rays (H. niphobles with a mode of 19 rays and H. niveatus with 18). But direct comparison of like-sized small juveniles (5 to 10 cm standard length) shows noticeable differences in certain morphological characters:
H. niveatus has a larger eye (eye diameter subequal to snout length and at least 1 mm greater than interorbital width; H. niphobles with eye diameter distinctly less than snout length and less than or subequal to interorbital width), pelvic fins distinctly longer than pectoral fins (H. niphobles with pelvic fins less than or subequal to pectoral fins), and there is no serrate lobe at the preopercle angle (H. niphobles with a small serrate lobe at corner of preopercle). C.L. Smith (1971) regarded H. niphobles as a synonym of H. niveatus. Although the morphological differences between H. niveatus and H. niphobles are slight, Heemstra and Randall (1993) regard these two taxa as distinct species. Heemstra and Randall (1993) have not examined the types of E. peruanus Chirichigno, 1963, but judging from the original description, it appears that her species is a synonym of H. niphobles. In the original description of E. peruanus the dorsal-fin formula is given 4 times as “XI,14,” and the figure also shows XI dorsal-fin spines; but in her 1978 paper on new additions to the ichthyofauna of Peru, Chirichigno (1978:84) stated that E. peruanus differed from H. niveatus in having only X dorsal-fin spines! This is presumably a lapse arising from confusion of E. peruanus with H. exsul.
H. niphobles differs from E. cifuentesi in the colour pattern of the juveniles, in having fewer lateral-scale series (100 to 106 versus 131 to 144 in E. cifuentesi), and fewer gill rakers (23 to 26 versus 27 to 31 in E. cifuentesi). H. exsul differs in having only X dorsal-fin spines, 8 anal-fin rays, and a different colour pattern (with pale spots faint and scattered randomly over the body).


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 [9594]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/8502]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Hyporthodus niphobles (Gilbert & Starks, 1897)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [132734]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Hyporthodus niphobles (Gilbert & Starks, 1897)]
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 niphobles (Gilbert & Starks, 1897)]
Data retrieved on: 19 August 2019

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