Dotted Grouper, Epinephelus epistictus (Temminck & Schlegel 1843)

Other Names: Black-dotted Rock-cod, Black-spotted Grouper, Black-spotted Rockcod, Broken-line Grouper, Spottedback Grouper

Dotted Grouper, Epinephelus epistictus. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A pale brownish to greenish-grey deep water grouper with irregular rows of small dark spots on the sides and upper body. Some specimens have a broad dark band from the eye to the gill cover, and two narrower bands running diagonally across the cheek.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Epinephelus epistictus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 13 Jun 2024,

Dotted Grouper, Epinephelus epistictus (Temminck & Schlegel 1843)

More Info


North-western Western Australia, to north-east of Darwin, Northern Territory. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the tropical Indo-West Pacific, from the Red Sea and South Africa, to Papua New Guinea and southern Japan. Inhabits rocky and soft bottoms in depths to 290 m.


Pectoral fin 16-19; Lateral-line scales 57-70.
Body depth 3.0–3.3 in SL (for specimens 12–50 cm SL); preopercle angle produced, with 3–5 distinctly enlarged serrations; upper edge of operculum straight to slightly convex; caudal fin slightly to moderately rounded; lateral body scales rough, with a few auxiliary scales in adults.


Genetic studies suggest that this species may be confined to the north-west Pacific, and that Australian and other tropical Indo-west Pacific material may represent another species (Johnson & Wilmer 2019).

Species Citation

Serranus epistictus Temminck & Schlegel 1843, in Siebold, Fauna Japonica Vol. 4: 8. Type locality: Nagasaki, Japan.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Dotted Grouper, Epinephelus epistictus (Temminck & Schlegel 1843)


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. 

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 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.

Johnson, J.W. & Wilmer, J.W. 2019. Epinephelus fuscomarginatus (Perciformes: Epinephelidae), a new species of grouper from off the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Zootaxa 4674(3): 329-348

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293

Leung Lap Boon, B. & Sadovy, Y. 2018. Epinephelus epistictus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T132824A46631320. Accessed on 20 December 2022.

Ma, K.Y. & Craig, M.T. 2018. An inconvenient monophyly: an update on the taxonomy of the groupers (Epinephelidae). Copeia 2018(3): 443–456 

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. 1984. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls. 

Temminck, C.J. & Schlegel, H. 1843. Pisces. 1-20 pls 1-7 in Siebold, P. Fr de (ed.) Fauna Japonica. Leyden : Apud Arnz & Socios Vol. 4.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37311046

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:70-290 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:80 cm TL

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