Rankin Cod, Epinephelus multinotatus (Peters 1876)

Other Names: Brown Rock-cod, Rankin's Rock Cod, Rankin's Rock-cod, Rockcod, Whiteblotched Grouper, White-blotched Grouper, White-blotched Rockcod, White-spotted Rockcod

A Rankin Cod, Epinephelus multinotatus, in Ushaka Sea World, Durban, South Africa. Source: Amanda44 / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC BY Attribution-ShareAlike

A dark purplish-grey rockcod with scattered irregular whitish spots and blotches that are smaller on the head. The markings fade with growth. Juveniles

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Epinephelus multinotatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 12 Jul 2020,

Rankin Cod, Epinephelus multinotatus (Peters 1876)

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Inhabits drop-offs and deep rocky reefs in Western Australia from the Abrolhos Islands to the tropical north. Rankin Cod have also been reported from Geographe Bay in the south. Found elsewhere in the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean. Juveniles are found in inshore coral reefs, while adults usually occur on deeper offshore reefs and trawl grounds.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin XI, 15-17; Anal fin III, 8-9; Pectoral fin 18-20; Lateral line scales 64-81; Gill rakers 9-11 + 15-18; Longitudinal scale series 130-162. 

Body depth 2.5-3.0 in SL;  head length 2.4-2.7 times in SL; dorsal head profile slightly convex, interorbit distinctly convex; maxilla reaching to below rear edge of eye, ventral edge of maxilla (adults) with distinct step distally; lower jaw with 2 rows of teeth midlaterally; preopercle subangular with a shallow notch just above the angle, serrations at angle not or slightly enlarged; upper edge of operculum straight; posterior nostrils (adults) twice size of anterior nostrils.
Body scales mostly ctenoid, cycloid dorsoanteriorly below anterior half of spinous dorsal fin, thorax, abdomen and above anterior anal fin; body with numerous auxiliary scales.

Caudal fin slightly emarginate to truncate; pelvic fins short, 1.7-2.3 in head length.


Rankin Cod are protogynous hermaphrodites, changing sex from female to male during the life cycle. Females mature at about 41 cm. Life span at least 22 years.


Fished commercially in north Western Australia - taken in multispecies demersal fisheries by a trawl fishery in Pilbara region, and by trap and line fisheries in the Broome region. The Rankin Cod is the most heavily fished grouper in Western Australia (Stephenson et al. 2001). The species is highly prized table fish.

Species Citation

Serranus multinotatus Peters, 1876, Monatsberichte der Königlichen Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin 1876: 435. Type locality: Mauritius.


Dianne J. Bray

Rankin Cod, Epinephelus multinotatus (Peters 1876)


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. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

Boulenger, G.A. 1889. Second account of the fishes obtained by Surgeon Major A.S.G. Jayakar at Muscat, east coast of Arabia. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1889(2): 236-246 pls 25-28 (as Epinephelus jayakari)

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. & 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 2069-2790 pp.

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.

Kailola, P.J., Williams, M.J., Stewart, P.C., Reichelt, R.E., McNee, A. & Grieve, C. 1993. Australian Fisheries Resources. Canberra : Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation 422 pp.

Peters, W.C.H. 1876. Übersicht der von Hrn. Prof. Dr. K. Möbius in Mauritius und bei den Seychellen gesammelten Fische. Monatsberichte der Königlichen Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin 1876: 435-447.

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.

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1985. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls.

Samoilys, M., Rocha, L. & Choat, J.H. 2008. Epinephelus multinotatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. . Downloaded on 17October 2014.

Stephenson, P.C., Edmunds, J.S., Moran, M.J. & Caputi, N. 2001. Analysis of stable isotope ratios to investigate stock structure of red emperor and Rankin cod in northern Western Australia. Journal of Fish Biology 58: 126-144.

Whitley, G.P. 1945. New sharks and fishes from Western Australia. Part 2. The Australian Zoologist 11(1): 1-42 figs 1-15 (as Epinephelus rankini)

Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Ward, R.D. (eds) 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 460 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37311010

Biology:Able to change sex

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-110 m

Fishing:Commercial, recreational fish

Fishing:Reef associated

Max Size:100 cm TL; 9 kg

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CAAB distribution map