Thinspine Grouper, Gracila albomarginata (Fowler & Bean 1930)

Other Names: Masked Grouper, Rededged Cod, Red-edged Grouper, Slenderspine Grouper, Thinspine Rockcod, White-margined Grouper, White-square Cod, White-square Grouper

A Thinspine Grouper, Gracila albomarginata, at Pantar Island, Indonesia, July 2018. Source: zsispeo / Flickr. License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A widespread but rare grouper with a greenish to reddish-brown or brownish-grey body, a large squarish white blotch on the upper side, dark oblique lines on the head, narrow dark bars along the midsides, and a white caudal-fin base with a black spot in the centre. The colourful juveniles are violet with bright red margins on the dorsal, anal and caudal fins.
In a genetic study of epinepheline groupers, Ma & Craig (2018) concluded that this species belongs in the genus Cephalopholis

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Gracila albomarginata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024,

Thinspine Grouper, Gracila albomarginata (Fowler & Bean 1930)

More Info


Scott Reef and Rowley Shoals, Western Australia, and the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland; also Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species occurs  in the tropical Indo-west Pacific. Inhabits steep outer reef slopes and channels, often hovering above the bottom.


Dorsal fin IX, 14-16; Anal fin III, 9-10; Pectoral fin 18-19; Lateral line scales 66-76; Longitudinal scale series 101-114.

Body oblong, slightly compressed, depth contained 2.6-3.3 times in SL; width of body 1.8-2.3 times in depth; head smaller compared to other groupers, head length 2.9-3.2 times in SL; evenly convex dorsal head profile; slightly convex interorbital area, width greater than eye diameter; narrow preorbital, depth distinctly less than eye diameter, preorbital depth 10-15 times in HL; rounded preopercle, finely serrate, smooth and fleshy lower edge; ventral edge of subopercle and interopercle smooth; posterior and anterior nostril subequal in size; posterior part of maxilla with hook-shaped or step-like expansion on ventral edge in adults; well developed supramaxilla; pair of small canines at front of jaws; presence of palatine teeth; 2 rows of teeth on midside of lower jaw, inner teeth depressible and twice as long as outer teeth.

Species Citation

Cephalopholis albomarginatus Fowler & Bean, 1930, Bull. U. S. Natl Mus. 100(10): 235, fig. 11. Type locality: Daniwan Island, Borneo.


Bray, D.J. 2018


 Australian Faunal Directory

Thinspine Grouper, Gracila albomarginata (Fowler & Bean 1930)


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. & 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. 

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. 

Fowler, H.W. & Bean, B.A. 1930. Contributions to the biology of the Philippine Archipelago and adjacent regions. The fishes of the families Amiidae, Chandidae, Duleidae and Serranidae, obtained by the United States Bureau of Fisheries Steamer Albatross, in 1907 to 1910, chiefly in the Philippine Islands and adjacent seas. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 100(10): 1-334 figs 1-27 

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.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp. 

Ma, K.Y. & Craig, M.T. 2018. An Inconvenient Monophyly: An Update on the Taxonomy of the Groupers (Epinephelidae). Copeia 106(3): 443–456.  

Ma, K.Y., Craig, M.T., Choat, J.H. & van Herwerden, L. 2016. The historical biogeography of groupers: clade diversification patterns and processes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 100: 21–30.

Randall, J.E. 1964. Notes on the groupers of Tahiti, with descriptions of a new serranid fish genus. Pacific Science 18(3): 281-296 figs 1-12

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

Rhodes, K.L., Myers, R. & Yeeting, B. 2008. Gracila albomarginata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T132800A3455045. Downloaded on 17 August 2018.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37311156

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Depth:15–120 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:40 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map