Passionfruit Coral Trout, Plectropomus areolatus (Rüppell 1830)

Other Names: Apricot Trout, Passionfruit Trout, Polkadot Cod, Squaretail Coral Trout, Square-tail Coral Trout, Squaretail Coralgrouper, Squaretail Coraltrout, Squaretail Grouper, Squaretail Leopardgrouper

A Passionfruit Coral Trout, Plectropomus areolatus, in the Raja Ampat Islands, February 2016. Source: Mark Rosenstein / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A whitish to pale grey coral trout covered in numerous small, dark-edged bright blue spots, often with 4-5 dark blotches forming saddles along the back, a narrow white margin on the rear of the caudal fin, and often a broader dark or pale submarginal band.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Plectropomus areolatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Jun 2024,

Passionfruit Coral Trout, Plectropomus areolatus (Rüppell 1830)

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Rowley Shoals, Western Australia, to Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, and the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific. Inhabits areas of rich coral growth in lagoons and on seaward reefs, often in channels along the reef front.


Dorsal fin VII-VIII, 10-12; Anal fin II, 8. 
Body elongate, greatest depth 2.9-3.9 in SL; snout length 2.8-3.6 times in head length; suborbital depth 5.6-10 times in HL; interorbital area flat, with small, embedded scales; preopercle broadly rounded with 3 large ventrally-directed spines along lower half; interopercle and subopercle smooth; opercle with 3 flat spines, upper and lower spines covered by skin; posterior and anterior nostrils subequal in size, set in shallow groove running forward from eye; jaws with large canine teeth at front; 1-4 large canines on side of lower jaw. 
Caudal fin truncate to slightly emarginate; pectoral fins 2.0-2.3 in head length; pelvic fins 2.0-2.4 in head length.


Whitish to pale grey; head, body and fins with numerous small, dark-edged blue spots; frequently with 4-5 dark blotches forming saddles on back; caudal fin with a narrow white posterior margin.


Adults feed exclusively on fishes.

Species Citation

Plectropoma areolatum Rüppell 1830, Fische des Rothen Meeres 3: 110 and index p. 2. Type locality: Mohila, Red Sea.


Bray, D.J. 2017


Australian Faunal Directory

Passionfruit Coral Trout, Plectropomus areolatus (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. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21 

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. 

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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. 

Hoese, D.F., Bowling, J., Russell, B. & Randall, J.E. 1981. A preliminary revision of Australian species of Coral Trout of the genus Plectropomus. Occasional Report of the Australian Museum 2: 1-28 (as Plectropomus truncatus)

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.

Lau, P.P.F. & Li, L.W.H. 2000. Identification guide to fishes in the live seafood trade of the Asia-Pacific region. World Wide Fund for Nature, Hong Kong. 137 pp.

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Pratchett, M.S., Cameron, D.S., Donelson, J. et al. 2017. Effects of climate change on coral grouper (Plectropomus spp.) and possible adaptation options. Rev Fish Biol Fisheries 27: 297.

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. 

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Randall, J.E. & Hoese, D.F. 1986. Revision of the groupers of the Indo-Pacific genus Plectropomus (Perciformes: Serranidae). Indo-Pacific Fishes 13: 1-31 figs 1-3 pls 1-5 

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Thierry, C., Sadovy, Y. & Yeeting, B. 2008. Plectropomus areolatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T64411A12779260. Downloaded on 17 September 2017.

van Herwerden, L., Davies, C.R. & Choat, J.H. 2002. Phylogenetic and evolutionary perspectives of the Indo-Pacific grouper Plectropomus species on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Journal of Fish Biology 60(6): 1591-1596

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37311081


Conservation:IUCN Vulnerable

Depth:1-20 m

Fishing:Commercial & recreational fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:80 cm TL

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