Taxon profile


Leather Bass
Dermatolepis dermatolepis (Boulenger, 1895)

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

Scientific synonyms

Epinephelus dermatolepis Boulenger, 1895
Dermatolepis punctatus Gill, 1861

Least Concern LC


Body depth usually greater than head length, depth contained 2.1 to 2.5 times in standard length (for fish 14 to 44 cm standard length). Eye diameter much less than snout length, eye diameter contained 5.2 to 8.0 times in head length. Gill rakers (total) 21 to 24. Dorsal fin with XI spines and 18 to 20 rays; anal fin with III spines and 9 rays; pectoral fins with 19 or 20 rays; pectoral fins short, their length 18 to 26% of standard length; caudal fin rounded. Scales smooth, mostly covered by skin; lateral-line scales 62 to 67; lateral-scale series difficult to count.
Colour: Adults with ground colour grey or brownish, irregular white spots and blotches on the dark bars and small dark spots on the pale interspaces; large adults with yellow margin on the posterior parts of the median fins. Juveniles white with several black bars on body and extending into dorsal and anal fins: head with similar black bands: paired fins and distal parts of median fins with black spots.


Eastern Pacific: Southern California to Ecuador, Revillagigedo and Galapagos Islands, Cocos Island, Clipperton Island.


Coral reefs and rocky bottoms in depths of 21 to at least 40 m. The leather bass is a diurnal predator that feeds on small benthic fishes and occasionally on crustaceans. It often uses browsing herbivorous fishes as a moving blind in order to feed on the cryptic fauna disturbed by these browsers, and it will also follow foraging moray eels to catch the fishes frightened from their hiding places in the reef when the eel enters crevices in search of prey. Small juveniles have been seen hiding among the long spines of the dark-coloured sea urchin, Centrostephanus coronatus (Verrill), for which their prominent darkbarred colour pattern is well suited.


Attains a length of about 1 m total length (Thomson et al., 1979).

Interchangeable taxa

This species differs from its Atlantic congener (D. inermis) in having shorter pectoral and pelvic fins (pectoral-fin length 18 to 26% of standard length, versus 29 to 35% of standard length; pelvic-fin length 13 to 20% of standard length, versus 20 to 23% of standard length) and in its colour pattern (juveniles with black bars and bands on a white background, versus juveniles black with white spots). The configuration of the median fins and the colour patterns of adults are also different in these two species.


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 [9185]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/7396]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Dermatolepis dermatolepis (Boulenger, 1895)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [132767]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Dermatolepis dermatolepis (Boulenger, 1895)]
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 Dermatolepis dermatolepis (Boulenger, 1895)]
Data retrieved on: 19 August 2019

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