Dotted grouper (Epinephelus epistictus)

Dotted grouper specimen
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Dotted grouper fact file

Dotted grouper description

GenusEpinephelus (1)

Like other groupers, the dotted grouper has a robust body with a spiny dorsal fin and a rounded caudal fin (2) (3). As its name suggests, small dark spots arranged in irregular rows are conspicuous over the sides and upper parts of its pale brown to greenish-grey body. In addition, some specimens have a broad dark band running back from the eye to the operculum and two narrower bands running diagonally across the cheek (2) (4).

Also known as
Black-spotted grouper, black-spotted rockcod, broken-line grouper, brown rockcod, spottedback grouper.
Epinephelus episticus, Epinephelus heniochus, Epinephelus magniscuttis, Epinephelus praeopercularis, Epinephelus stimogrammacus, Serranus epistictus.
Diri, Merou Pale.
Mero Palido.
Max length: 80 cm (2)
Max weight: 7 kg (2)

Dotted grouper biology

Nothing has been published on the biology of the dotted grouper (1), but like other Epinephelus species, it is probably a protogynous hermaphrodite, meaning that individuals begin mature life as female and change sex later to become male (2) (3). Epinephelus species tend to be voracious predators, with fish and crustaceans taken near the sea bottom forming the bulk of prey (2) (5).


Dotted grouper range

The dotted grouper has an Indo-West Pacific distribution ranging from South Africa to the Arabian Gulf, across to Japan, and south through Southeast Asia to northern Australia (1) (2).


Dotted grouper habitat

This bottom dwelling species inhabits soft and rocky bottoms on the continental shelf from depths of 71 to 291 metres (1) (2).


Dotted grouper status

Classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Data Deficient


Dotted grouper threats

Although the dotted grouper is potentially threatened by overfishing there is very little information available to make a detailed assessment of the conservation status of this species. In the absence of research data, it is unknown whether its apparent rarity in fisheries is attributable to naturally low abundance levels, already-depleted stock, or simply a preference for deeper water where it is less likely to be caught (1).


Dotted grouper conservation

Owing to the lack of information on the dotted grouper, the current conservation priority is to research those aspects of its biology which will significantly influence its vulnerability to overfishing, such as growth rate and reproductive potential. Similarly, quantitative information on the natural abundance of this elusive species is crucial to assessing its status (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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For further information on the conservation of groupers see:



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Diverse group of arthropods (a phylum of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton) characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (parts of the mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, slaters, woodlice and barnacles.
Dorsal fin
The unpaired fin found on the back of the body of fish, or the raised structure on the back of most cetaceans.
A hard, bony flap that covers and protects the gill slits of fish.
Protogynous hermaphrodite
An animal that begins its life cycle as a female. As the animal ages, based on internal or external triggers, it shifts sex to become a male animal.


  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2009)
  2. Heemstra, P.C. and Randall, J.E. (1993) FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 16: Groupers of the World. Food and Agricultural Organization, Rome..
  3. Randall, J.E. (1994) Coastal fishes of Oman. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.
  4. Polovina, J.J. and Ralston, S. (1987) Tropical snappers and groupers: biology and fisheries management. Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado.
  5. Campbell, A. and Dawes, J. (2004) Encyclopedia of Underwater Life. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Image credit

Dotted grouper specimen  
Dotted grouper specimen

© John E. Randall

Dr. John E. Randall


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