Temporal range: 55–0 Ma
Eocene to present[1]
Epinephelus fasciatus, the type species
Epinephelus tukula
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Serranidae
Subfamily: Epinephelinae
Tribe: Epinephelini
Genus: Epinephelus
Bloch, 1793
Type species
Epinephelus marginalis
Bloch, 1793[2]

see text


Epinephelus is a genus of marine ray-finned fish, groupers from the subfamily Epinephelinae, part of the family Serranidae, which also includes the anthias and sea basses. They are predatory fish, largely associated with reefs and are found in tropical and subtropical seas throughout the world. They are important target species for fisheries.


The fishes in the genus Epinephelus have elongate, subcylindrical bodies which may be oblong or deep and compressed in shape. The depth of the body varies between 2.3 and 3.7 times the standard length and head is usually around the same length as the body is deep. The preopercle can be rounded or angular and has a serrated rear edge with the serrations at the angle being enlarged to a lesser or greater extent. In a small number of species serrations are small and on the lower edge they are covered by skin. Caniform teeth are found at the front of jaws, although these can be rather small in a few species. They do not have any obviously enlarged caniform teeth in the middle of the lower jaw. There are teeth on the roof of the mouth. In adults, the maxilla does not have a noticeable bony protrusion on the lower rear angle, although they can have a deep step or hook-like process which is hidden by the upper lips, on the rear part of its lower edge. The dorsal fin normally contains 9 spines, although some species have 10, as well as 12 to 19 rays. The origin of the dorsal fin sits above the opercle and the soft rayed part is shorter than the spiny part. The anal fin contains 3 distinct spines and 7 to 10 soft rays. The pectoral fin is rounded with its middle rays being longer than the others longest. The caudal fin may be rounded, truncate or concave, contains 8 branched rays and 8 to 10 fin rays which are slender, unbranched and unsegmented (referred to as "procurrent") fin rays at the leading edges of he caudal fin on the upper lobe and 7 branched rays and 7 to 10 procurrent rays in the lower lobe. The body is covered in ctenoid or smooth scales.[4]

Habitat and biology

Epinephelus groupers are occur mainly on coral or rocky reefs, although a small number of species have been recorded over substrates consisting of sand, silt or mud. A few species are found in deep water, down to at least 525 metres (1,722 ft), but the majority occur between 10 and 200 metres (33 and 656 ft). The two largest members of the genus, E. itajara and E. lanceolatus, either of which may attain a length in excess of 2 metres (6.6 ft) and a weight greater than 400 kilograms (880 lb) have frequently been recorded in estuaries and harbours. Most of the species in the genus Epinephelus are predatory fish which feed on larger invertebrates, mostly crustaceans, and other fishes taken on or close to the substrate. E. undulosus is an unusual grouper species distinguished by having many, long gill rakers and this species has been reported to feed on pelagic tunicates, at least on occasion. Only a few species have had their reproductive biology studied and many species appear to be protogynous hermaphrodites. However, in some species there are males in the populations which are smaller than some of the females, suggesting a more complex biology and this suggests that some females do not change sex, and that some males may not have a undergone a functional female stage.[4]


Epinephelus species are found around the world in tropical and subtropical seas and oceans. The greatest diversity occurs in the Indo-West Pacific, while 8 species are found in the eastern Pacific, 11 in the western Atlantic Ocean 9 species in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean.[4] Four species have entered the Mediterranean Sea from the Red Sea via the Suez Canal as Lessepsian migrants.[5]


Epinephelus groupers are among the most valuable species exploited by commercial fishes in the world's tropical seas and they fetch some of the highest prices when marketed. They have also been used in aquaculture.[4]


The 89 recognized species in this genus are:[6]

Some of these species are placed in the genus Hyporthodus by some authorities, for example Epinephelus darwinensis is treated as Hyporthodus darwinensis by the Catalog of Fishes.[12]


  1. ^ Jack Sepkoski. Shanan E. Peters (ed.). "1393 genera are assigned to the class OSTEICHTHYES". Sepkoski Online. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  2. ^ Eschmeyer, William N.; Fricke, Ron & van der Laan, Richard (eds.). "Epinephelus". Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  3. ^ Eschmeyer, William N.; Fricke, Ron & van der Laan, Richard (eds.). "Genera in the family Epinephelinae". Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Heemstra, P.C. & J.E. Randall (1993). FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 16. Groupers of the world (family Serranidae, subfamily Epinephelinae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the grouper, rockcod, hind, coral grouper and lyretail species known to date (PDF). FAO Fish. Synopsis. Vol. 125. FAO, Rome. pp. 69–75. ISBN 92-5-103125-8.
  5. ^ Daniel Golani; Grigori Askarov; Yuri Dashevsky (2015). "First record of the Red Sea spotted grouper, Epinephelus geoffroyi (Klunzinger, 1870) (Serranidae) in the Mediterranean". BioInvasions Records. 4 (2): 143–145. doi:10.3391/bir.2015.4.2.12.
  6. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2016). Species of Epinephelus in FishBase. June 2016 version.
  7. ^ Benjamin W. Frable; Sarah J. Tucker & H.J. Walker Jr. (2019). "A new species of grouper, Epinephelus craigi (Perciformes: Epinephelidae), from the South China Sea". Ichthyological Research. 66 (2): 215–224. doi:10.1007/s10228-018-0669-9. S2CID 53239811.
  8. ^ Johnson, J. & Worthington Wilmer, J. (2019). "Epinephelus fuscomarginatus (Perciformes: Epinephelidae), a new species of grouper from off the Great Barrier Reef, Australia". Zootaxa. 4674 (3): zootaxa.4674.3.2. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4674.3.2. PMID 31716001.
  9. ^ Eschmeyer, William N.; Fricke, Ron & van der Laan, Richard (eds.). "Species in the genus Epinephelus". Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  10. ^ Tucker, S.J., Kurniasih, E.M. & Craig, M.T. (2016): A New Species of Grouper (Epinephelus; Epinephelidae) from the Indo-Pacific. Copeia, 104 (3): 658-662.
  11. ^ Haohao Wu; Meng Qu; Hungdu Lin; Wei Tang & Shaoxiong Ding (2020). "Epinephelus tankahkeei, a new species of grouper (Teleostei, Perciformes, Epinephelidae) from the South China Sea". ZooKeys (933): 125–137. doi:10.3897/zookeys.933.46406. PMC 7248128. PMID 32508492.
  12. ^ Eschmeyer, William N.; Fricke, Ron & van der Laan, Richard (eds.). "Epinephelus darwinensis". Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 23 June 2020.