Harlequin Grouper, Cephalopholis polleni (Bleeker 1868)

Other Names: Blue-lined Grouper, Harlequin Cod, Harlequin Hind, Harlequin Rockcod

A Harlequin Grouper, Cephalopholis polleni, at Christmas Island, May 2022. Source: Erik Schlogl / iNaturalist.org. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A rare yellow to greenish-yellow deep water grouper covered in bright blue stripes.
The Harlequin Grouper only occurs around oceanic islands, and is usually seen swimming upside-down near the roof in caves, crevices and archways. 

Video of a Harlequin Grouper in an aquarium.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Cephalopholis polleni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/5007

Harlequin Grouper, Cephalopholis polleni (Bleeker 1868)

More Info


Recorded from the Australian territories of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island in the Eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the Indo-west-central Pacific.
A solitary species that inhabits clear steep drop-offs below 30 m, mostly at oceanic islands. 


The species is named in honour of François Pollen, who, along with Douwe Casparus van Dam, collected the type specimen.

Species Citation

Epinephelus polleni Bleeker, 1868, Verslag. Meded. Konink. Akad. Wetensch. 2 2: 336. Type locality: Réunion.


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Harlequin Grouper, Cephalopholis polleni (Bleeker 1868)


Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21.

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Bleeker, P. 1868. Description de deux espèces inédites d'Epinephelus rapportées de l'île de la Réunion par M.M. Pollen et van Dam. Verslagen en Mededeelingen der Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen (Afdeeling Natuurjunde). Amsterdam 2 2: 336-341.

Craig, M.T. 2018. Cephalopholis polleni. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T132805A100457007. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T132805A100457007.en. Accessed on 15 March 2023.

Craig, M.T., Sadovy de Mitcheson, Y.J. & Heemstra, P.C. 2011. Groupers of the World: a Field and Market Guide. Grahamstown, South Africa : NISC Ltd 356 pp., Appendix 47 pp.
Heemstra, P.C., Fennessy, S., Myers, R. & Kulbicki, M. 2008. Cephalopholis polleni. In: IUCN 2014. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. . Downloaded on 14 June 2014.

Heemstra, P.C. & Randall, J.E. 1986. Family No. 166: Serranidae. pp. 509-537, Pls. 31-45 in Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P.C. (eds). 1986. Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg : Macmillan South Africa xx + 1047 pp. 144 pls.

Heemstra, P.C. & Randall, J.E. 1993. FAO species catalogue. 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. FAO Fisheries Synopsis. No. 125, Vol. 16. Rome, FAO.

Heemstra, P.C. & Randall, J.E. 1999. Family Serranidae. pp. 2442-2548 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 2069-2790 pp.

Hobbs, J-P.A., Newman, S.J., Mitsopoulos, G.E.A., Travers, M.J., Skepper, C.L., Gilligan, J.J., Allen, G.R., Choat, H.J. & Ayling, A.M. 2014. Checklist and new records of Christmas Island fishes: the influence of isolation, biogeography and habitat availability on species abundance and community composition. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 184–202 

Hobbs, J-P.A., Newman, S .J., Mitsopoulos, G.E.A., Travers, M.J., Skepper, C.L., Gilligan, J.J., Allen, G.R., Choat, H.J. & Ayling, A.M. 2014. Fishes of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands: new records, community composition and biogeographic significance. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 203–219

Kuiter, R.H. & T. Tonozuka. 2001. Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 1. Eels- Snappers, Muraenidae - Lutjanidae. Zoonetics, Australia. 302 pp.

Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian reef fishes: a comprehensive guide to the coral reef fishes of Micronesia. Coral Graphics, Barrigada, Guam.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Randall, J.E. & Heemstra, P.C. 1991. Revision of Indo-Pacific groupers (Perciformes: Serranidae: Epinephelinae), with descriptions of five new species. Indo-Pacific Fishes 20: 1-332.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37311206

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:10-120 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish (rare)

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:43 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map