Taxon profile

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Dermatolepis Gill, 1861

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


Body deep and markedly compressed, the greatest depth usually more than head length (occasionally equals head length) and contained 2.1 to 2.5 times in standard length, the body width contained 2.4 to 3.4 times in the depth. Head length contained 2.5 to 2.8 times in standard length; dorsal head profile steep, almost straight; the interorbital area slightly convex; preorbital depth contained 8 to 11 times in head length; preopercle subangular, finely serrate, the serrae covered by skin and the lower edge smooth; opercular spines inconspicuous, the lower rudimentary; upper edge of operculum convex; ventral edge of subopercle and interopercle smooth; anterior part of interopercle extended ventrally as a broad fleshy flap; no bony knob or step on posterior end of maxilla; supramaxilla well developed; posterior nostrils 2 or 3 times larger than anterior nostrils; canines at front of jaws rudimentary or absent; teeth present on palatines. Dorsal fin with XI spines and 18 to 20 rays, the fin origin in front of a vertical at pectoral-fin base, the fin membranes not or only slightly incised between the spines; anal fin with III spines and 9 or 10 rays; pectoral fins rounded, the middle rays longest, distinctly longer than pelvic fins; caudal fin rounded in juveniles, truncate to distinctly concave in adults, with 8 branched rays and 8 procurrent rays in upper part and 7 branched rays and 7 procurrent rays in lower part. All scales on the body and head are smooth (ctenii rudimentary or absent). Supraneural bones 2, the second one at least half the length of the first; no trisegmental pterygiophores; rear edge of first dorsal pteryyiophore not excavated: epipleural ribs on vertebrae 1 to 10; cranium compressed, the least interorbital width less than width of vomer; median supraoccipital crest well developed; frontoparietal crests convergent anteriorly: parasphenoid straight.


One species in the eastern Pacific, one in the western Atlantic, and one in the western Indian Ocean. This particular pattern of species distribution is not known for any other genus of fishes.


Species of Dermatolepis are secretive coral-reef fishes reported from depths of 10 to 213 m. They are relatively rare and almost nothing is known of their biology.


Dermatolepis was regarded as a subgenus of Epinephelus by C.L. Smith (1971), Johnson (1983) and Johnson and Keener (1984). According to Smith-Vaniz et al. (1988), the scales of Alphestes and Dermatolepis are distinct from all other groupers, Dermatolepis differs from Alphestes in lacking the strong antrorse spine on the preopercle, in head shape (eye diameter about half of snout length, versus greater than or subequal to snout), and in having larvae with a smooth neurocranium (dorsal part of neurocranium extremely rugose in Alphestes). The interrelationships of the species of Dermatolepis are not apparent.


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

Included taxa

Number of records: 3

species Dermatolepis dermatolepis (Boulenger, 1895) - Leather Bass
species Dermatolepis inermis (Valenciennes, 1833) - Donkey Fish

Dermatolepis inermis

species Dermatolepis striolata (Playfair, 1867)

Links and literature

CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [genus/1163]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Dermatolepis Gill, 1861]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN The Interim Register of Marine and Nonmarine Genera [1278279]

Rees, T. (compiler): The Interim Register of Marine and Nonmarine Genera [] [as Dermatolepis Gill, 1861]
Data retrieved on: 30 November 2019

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