Tomato Rockcod, Cephalopholis sonnerati (Valenciennes 1828)

Other Names: Orange-spotted Cod, Orange-spotted Rock-cod, Red Coral Cod, Red Rockcod, Tomato Cod, Tomato Grouper, Tomato Hind, Tomato Rock Cod, Tomato Rock-cod, Tomato Seabass

A Tomato Rockcod, Cephalopholis sonnerati, at North Solitary Island, New South Wales, depth 12 m. Source: Ian V. Shaw / Atlas of Living Australia. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A reddish-orange to reddish-brown grouper with a dense network of spots on the head, fainter spots on the body and fins, and bluish fin margins. Adults are deep-bodied with a hump-headed appearance. Juveniles are dark with darker spots and a broad paler blue margin on the caudal fin.

Video of Tomato Rockcods at Okinawa, Japan
A Tomato Rockcod being attended by cleaner shrimps

Cite this page as:
Cephalopholis sonnerati in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Jun 2024,

Tomato Rockcod, Cephalopholis sonnerati (Valenciennes 1828)

More Info


Known in Australia from The Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia, to near Darwin, Northern Territory, and from Cape York, Queensland, to South West Rocks, New South Wales; also Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in the Indo-Pacific, from Africa to the Line Islands, north to southern Japan, and south to northern New South Wales (Australia).
Inhabits deep lagoons and steep outer reef slopes


Pelvic fins usually reaching or extending beyond anus. Color of adults in Indian Ocean: body orange-red to reddish brown, often with scattered small whitish blotches; head purplish to reddish brown with numerous close-set orange-red spots; membrane between lower 2 opercular spines usually darker than rest of head; fins usually darker than body, esp. the caudal and posterior part of dorsal and anal fins; pelvic fins often blackish distally. Color of adults in the Pacific: pale reddish to yellowish brown with numerous small brownish red spots on head, body, and fins. 


Feeds on small fishes and crustaceans including shrimps, crabs and stomatopods.


Forms spawning aggregations, and is likely to be a protogynous hermaphrodite.


Protected in Queensland by a size regulation, with a maximum catch size of 38 cm TL.

Species Citation

Serranus sonnerati Valenciennes, 1828, Hist. Nat. Poiss. 2: 299. Type locality: Pondicherry, India. 


Australian Faunal Directory

Tomato Rockcod, Cephalopholis sonnerati (Valenciennes 1828)


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Valenciennes, A. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1828. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 2 xxi, 2 + 490 pp., pls 9-40.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37311045

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:10-150m (usually 30-70m)

Fishing:Commercial, recreational fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:57 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map