Taxon profile


Hyporthodus niveatus (Valenciennes, 1828)

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 niveatus Valenciennes, 1828
Epinephelus niveatus (Valenciennes, 1828)
Serranus conspersus Poey, 1860
Hyporthodus flavicauda Gill, 1861
Serranus margaritifer Günther, 1859
Alphestes scholanderi Walters, 1957

Vulnerable VU


Body depth contained 2.4 to 2.8 times in standard length (for fish 10 to 38 cm standard length), 2.8 to 3.1 times for fish 75 to 93 cm standard length. Head length contained 2.2 to 2.4 times in standard length (for fish 10 to 38 cm standard length), 2.4 to 2.6 times for fish 75 to 93 cm standard length; interorbital convex, the width less than or subequal to eye diameter in fish 10 to 20 cm standard length; in fish 30 to 93 cm standard length, the interorbital width is 1 .1 to 1.9 times eye diameter; preopercle with enlarged serrae at the angle; often a tiny antrorse spine, covered with skin, on lower edge just in front of the angle; upper edge of operculum distinctly convex; rear nostrils 2 to 5 times larger than front ones. Gill rakers 7 to 10 on upper limb, 15 to 17 on lower limb, total 22 to:26. Dorsal fin with XI spines and 13 to 15 rays, the second or third spine longest, the membranes deeply incised between the spines; anal fin with III spines and 9 rays; juveniles with pelvic fins longer than pectoral fins; in fish 40 to 60 cm standard length, the pectoral and pelvic fins are about equal, and in large adults (over 60 cm standard length), the pectoral fins are slightly longer than the pelvic fins; pelvic-fin origin anterior to pectoral-fin base; pectoral-fin rays 17 to 19 (3:17, 63:18, 1:19); rear margin of caudal fin convex in juveniles (less than 30 cm standard length), straight or concave in adults. Midlateral-body scales rough: lateral-line scales 64 to 73; lateral-scale series 102 to 128. Pyloric caeca numerous.
Colour: Adults dark brown, the spinous dorsal-fin margin black (except in large adults). The live colour of the holotype of Alphestes scholanderi, 76 cm standard length, was described as "....coppery gold with about 18 narrow, wavy, vertical, dark bands on the sides, a broad dark band across the lower part of the opercle and another across the preopercle.” (Walters, 1957). Juveniles dark brown with conspicuous white spots in about 11 vertical series and 5 or 6 longitudinal rows, usually extending onto head and dorsal fin (white spots visible on fish 6 to 40 cm standard length); caudal and pectoral fins pale yellow; a black saddle blotch on caudal peduncle reaching below lateral line.


Western Atlantic from Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico, Bermuda, the Caribbean, and southern Brazil.


Adults occur well offshore on rocky bottoms at depths of 30 to 525 m but are most common between 100 and 200 m. Juveniles may be found inshore and are often reported from the northeastern coast of the U.S. Most females are mature by age 4 or 5 (40 to 50 cm total length); as expected for a protogynous species, males less than 6 years old (55 to 60 cm) were not found, and 40% of all fish 8 years or older (70 cm) were males; spawning occurs off the Florida Keys from April to July (Moore and Labisky, 1984). The maximum age attained is at least 27 years. Age and growth parameters of this relatively unexploited population in the lower Florida Keys were reported by Moore and Labisky (1984): W = 2.45 x 10-8L2.933with weight (W) in kg and total length (L) in millimetres. Lt =1320(1-e-0.087(t-1.013)), where total length (Lt) is in millimetres and age (t) is in years. Adults feed mainly on fishes, gastropods, cephalopods, and brachyuran crustaceans. Larvae of 5.5 to 10.3 mm standard length were described and illustrated by Presley (1970). Johnson and Keener (1984) illustrated the second dorsal- and pelvic-fin spines of 8.7 and 13.1 mm larvae identified as “Epinephelus (Hyporthodus) niveatus/flavolimbatus.”


Maximum total length about 120 cm; maximum weight 30 kg.


C.L. Smith (1971) synonymized the eastern Pacific species H. niphobles with H. niveatus. See Interchangeable Taxa section of H. niphobles for a discussion of reasons why Heemstra and Randall (1993) recognize these taxa as separate species. H. niveatus was compared with H. flavolimbatus in the account of the latter species. The type locality of Serranus margaritifer Gunther is probably Guyana, as the type was presented to the British Museum by Sir R. Schomburgk, who collected fishes in the Orinoco River and along the coast of Guyana (Schomburgk, 1841). The original illustration of S. margaritifer, which was cited in the text of Günther’s (1859) Catalogue as “Plate 9, fig. b,” was actually published 36 years later by Boulenger (1895).


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 [1208]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/8503]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Hyporthodus niveatus (Valenciennes, 1828)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [7861]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Hyporthodus niveatus (Valenciennes, 1828)]
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 niveatus (Valenciennes, 1828)]
Data retrieved on: 19 August 2019

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