Common Coral Trout, Plectropomus leopardus (Lacépède 1802)

Other Names: Bluedotted Coraltrout, Blue-spot Trout, Coral Trout, Leopard Cod, Leopard Coral Grouper, Leopard Coralgrouper, Leopard Coral-trout, Leopard Trout, Trout

A Common Coral Trout, Plectropomus leopardus, on the Great Barrier Reef, QueenslandAugust 2011. Source: John Sear / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A large olive green to reddish brown or orange-red coral trout covered in regularly-spaced bright blue spots (except below), and a blue ring around the eye (may be broken up). Common Coral Trout can rapidly change their colour, and often assume a mottled pattern when hunting. This species is often mistaken for the Barcheek Coral Trout, Plectropomus maculatus, which has some elongate spots or dashes on the head region.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Plectropomus leopardus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jun 2024,

Common Coral Trout, Plectropomus leopardus (Lacépède 1802)

More Info


Known in Australia from Beacon Island, Western Australia, and Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island in the Timor Sea, around the tropical north to at least Sydney, New South Wales; also reefs in the Coral Sea, the Lord Howe Island region in the Tasman Sea,.and Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean.

Elsewhere, the species occurs in the tropical Western Pacific, north to southern Japan, and east to the Caroline Islands, Fiji and Tonga.

Individuals or pairs usually swim slowly near schools of small fishes, or rest motionless on coral outcrops or on the bottom. 


Coral trout are protogynous hermaphrodites - changing sex from male to female during their life cycle. They form spawning aggregations around the new moon and females produce tiny eggs that float just below the surface.

Studies show that larvae from larger females may have an advantage in transitioning from the newly hatched stage to being able to feed by themselves Carter et al. (2015). 

Similar Species

The similar Barcheek Coral Trout, Plectropomus maculatus, usually has some elongate spots (vs small rounded dots or spots) on the head region. The Bluespotted Coral Trout, P. laevishas dark saddles along the back and a truncate caudal fin.

Species Citation

Holocentrus leopardus Lacépède 1802, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons: 332, 367. Type locality: 'Mer des Indes'.


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Common Coral Trout, Plectropomus leopardus (Lacépède 1802)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37311078

Conservation:IUCN Near Threatened

Depth:3-100 m

Fishing:Commercial, recreational, aquaculture fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:120 cm SL; 23.6 kg

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map