Epaulet grouper (Epinephelus stoliczkae)

Epaulet grouper with fins raised
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Epaulet grouper fact file

Epaulet grouper description

GenusEpinephelus (1)

An intricate pattern of spots, blotches and bars decorates the robust body of the epaulet grouper. With the exception of the underside, the anterior half of its yellowish-grey body (including the head) is covered in numerous orange-red or reddish-brown spots. In contrast, several alternating, light-and-dark, vertical bars extend backwards from around the middle of the body to the caudal fin (2) (3). In common with many other groupers, the mouth is large, and the long dorsal fin is divided into a conspicuously spiny portion followed by a soft portion (4).

Serranus stoliczkae.
Merou Epaulette.
Mero Hombrero.
Max length: at least 38 cm (2)

Epaulet grouper biology

Other than its apparent habitat preferences, almost nothing is known about the biology of the epaulet grouper (1). However, 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).


Epaulet grouper range

Known from shallow waters of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, Somalia, the Gulf of Oman and Pakistan (1) (2) (3).


Epaulet grouper habitat

The epaulet grouper inhabits shallow, sandy bottoms, near small coral heads, but is not known from well developed coral reefs (1) (2).


Epaulet grouper status

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

IUCN Red List species status – Data Deficient


Epaulet grouper threats

Although the epaulet grouper is caught in traditional fisheries in parts of its range, there is no published fisheries information available. Nonetheless, this species is not thought to be currently threatened (1).


Epaulet grouper conservation

While there are currently no conservation measures in place for the epaulet grouper, it is possible that it occurs in marine protected areas within its range, including in the Red Sea (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Caudal fin
The tail fin of a fish.
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.
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. Carpenter, K.E. and Niem, V.H. (1999) FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 4. Bony fishes part 2 (Mugilidae to Carangidae). Food and Agricultural Organization, Rome..
  5. Campbell, A. and Dawes, J. (2004) Encyclopedia of Underwater Life. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Image credit

Epaulet grouper with fins raised  
Epaulet grouper with fins raised

© Richard Field

Richard Field


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