Spotted Soapfish, Pogonoperca punctata (Valenciennes 1830)

Other Names: Bearded Soapfish, Leaflip Grouper, Soapfish

A Spotted Soapfish, Pogonoperca punctata, at Madang, Papua New Guinea. Source: Jan Messersmith / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A brown soapfish covered in small white spots, with a black vertical bar through the eye, four black saddles along the back, and a skin flap on the chin. Juveniles are dark brown with many large white spots.
Video of a Spotted Soapfish in an aquarium.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Pogonoperca punctata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 02 Dec 2023,

Spotted Soapfish, Pogonoperca punctata (Valenciennes 1830)

More Info


South of Evans Shoal, Northern Territory, and the Australian territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species occurs in the East-Indo-west-central Pacific: eastern Indonesia, Micronesia, the Line, Marquesan and Society Islands, north to southern Japan and south to New Caledonia. A cryptic species usually found on outer reef slopes and coral heads on slopes prone to moderate currents. Juveniles inhabit shallower lagoons or protected bays.


Dorsal fin VII, 12-13; Anal fin III, 8.


Feeds on crustaceans and small fishes.

Species Citation

Grammistes punctata Valenciennes 1830, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 6: 504. Type locality: Vanikoro Island, Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands (as Vanicolo).


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Spotted Soapfish, Pogonoperca punctata (Valenciennes 1830)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls. 

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

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

Allen, G.R. & Steene, R.C. 1988. Fishes of Christmas Island Indian Ocean. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 197 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2004. Basslets, Hamlets and their relatives. A comprehensive guide to selected Serranidae and Plesiopidae. Chorleywood, UK : TMC Publishing 1, 216 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 2. Fusiliers - Dragonets, Caesionidae - Callionymidae. Australia : Zoonetics pp. 304-622.

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., Katsumi, A., Hibiya, T., Mitsunra, N., Kamiya, H. & Hashimoto, Y. 1971. Grammistin, the skin toxin of soapfishes, and its significance in the classification of the Grammistidae. Publications of the Seto Marine Biological Laboratory 19(2-3): 157-190 PDF available, Open access

Williams, J.T., Carpenter, K.E., Lawrence, A. & Myers, R. 2016. Pogonoperca punctata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T69589017A69592492. Downloaded on 11 March 2018.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37311207

Biology:Secretes a skin toxin

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:10-216 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:35 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map