Sixband Rockcod, Cephalopholis sexmaculata (Rüppell 1830)

Other Names: Freckled Cod, Freckled Rock-cod, Sixband Cod, Six-banded Rockcod, Six-banded Rock-cod, Sixblotch Hind, Sixspot Rockcod

A Sixband Rockcod, Cephalopholis sexmaculata, on Mermaid Reef, Rowley Shoals, Western Australia, October 2020. Source: Alex Hoschke / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

An orange-red grouper, with small blue spots sparsely scattered on the body but more densely on head and median fins, elongated blue spots and lines on the head, four dark bars (sometimes very faint) on the body merging dorsally with blackish blotches at base of dorsal fin that extend onto the fin, and two smaller dark bar/blotches on the caudal peduncle.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Cephalopholis sexmaculata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

Sixband Rockcod, Cephalopholis sexmaculata (Rüppell 1830)

More Info


Scott Reef, Western Australia, Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea, and the far northern Great Barrier Reef, to One Tree Island, Queensland; also Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean, and Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in the Indo-west-central Pacific.
Inhabits coastal to outer coral reefs, usually along deep walls and caves rich with invertebrate growth.


Dorsal fin IX,14-16; Anal fin III,9; Longitudinal scale series 95-108. 
Greatest body depth 2.5-3.0 times in standard length (for specimens 13-39 cm SL); head length 2.3-2.5 times in SL; ctenoid scales on body, including abdomen; caudal fin rounded; pelvic fins not reaching or just about the anus, 1.9-2.3 in HL.


Feeds mostly on fishes.


Taken small-scale fisheries and occasionally found in the live reef fish food trade.


The specific name sexmaculata is from the Latin sex (= six) and maculatus (= spotted), in reference to the six quadrangular black blotches along the back.

Species Citation

Serranus sexmaculatus Rüppell 1830, Fische des Rothen Meeres 3: 107. Type locality: Red Sea.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Sixband Rockcod, Cephalopholis sexmaculata (Rüppell 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., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. 1976. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30(15): 365-454 figs 1-2 

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

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. 

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2 

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp. 

Heemstra, P.C. & Randall, J.E. 1993. Groupers of the World (Family Serranidae, Subfamily Epinephelinae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of grouper, rockcod, hind, coral grouper and lyretail species known to date. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125 Vol. 16. Rome: FAO. pp. 1-382 

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 pp. 2069-2790. 

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 See ref online

Hui, T.H., Maruse, T., Fujita, Y., Kiat, T.S. 2014. Observations on the fauna from submarine and associated anchialine caves in Christmas Island, Indian Ocean Territory, Australia. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology , Supplement 30: 406-418. See ref online

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Biodiversity of shallow reef fish assemblages in Western Australia using a rapid censusing technique. Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 247-270 

Ma, K.Y. & Craig, M.T. 2018. An inconvenient monophyly: an update on the taxonomy of the groupers (Epinephelidae). Copeia 106(3): 443-456.

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., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. 

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs. 

Randall, J.E. & Ben Tuvia, A. 1983. A review of the groupers (Pisces : Serranidae) of the Red Sea, with description of a new species of Cephalopholis. Bulletin of Marine Science 33(2): 373-426 figs 1-27 

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 

Rüppell, W.P.E. 1830. Atlas zu der Reise im nördlichen Afrika. Fische des Rothen Meeres. 3. Frankfurt : H.L. Brünner 95-141 pls 25-35. 

Russell, B.C. & Houston, W. 1989. Offshore fishes of the Arafura Sea. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 6(1): 69-84

Whitley, G.P. 1937. Further ichthyological miscellanea. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 11(2): 113-148 figs 11-13

Sadovy, Y. & Leung Lap Boon, B. 2018. Cephalopholis sexmaculata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T132741A100457437. Accessed on 26 June 2022.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37311140

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:6-150 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:67 cm TL

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