Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes
(Perch-likes) > Serranidae
(Sea basses: groupers and fairy basslets) > Epinephelinae
Etymology: Plectropomus: Greek,plektron = anything to strike with, spur + Greek, poma = cover, operculum (Ref. 45335).
Environment / Climate / Range
Marine; reef-associated; depth range 3 - 100 m (Ref. 9710). Tropical; 24°C - ? (Ref. 2160); 35°N - 30°S, 99°E - 178°W (Ref. 5222)
Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?, range 21 - 60 cm
Max length : 120 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 6390); common length : 35.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. ); max. published weight: 23.6 kg (Ref. 6390); max. reported age: 26 years (Ref. 3639)
(total): 7 - 8;
soft rays: 8. Color in life olivaceous to reddish brown (some are orange-red), paler ventrally with numerous minute round, dark-edged blue spots on head and body (except lower thorax and abdomen), median fins and pectoral fin base; largest spots on body with 3 times or more in greater pupil diameter; with more than 10 spots on cheek (in the region below and behind center of eye to preopercular margin); only Plectropomus with a nearly complete blue ring (dark brown in preservative) around the eye (sometimes broken into segments); whitish margin very narrow and usually present along middle or posterior margin of caudal fin, often preceded by an indistinct dark band; pectoral rays 14-17 (modally 16); 89-99 lateral line scales; 112-127 scales in longitudinal series; interorbital space no embedded scales; gill rakers on first gill arch developed 1-3 + 6-10; gill raker at right angle of first arch longer than longest gill filaments at angle; enlarged posterior nostril on individuals > 40 cm SL; dorsal soft ray 3rd or 4th longest, 2.2-2.75 in head; anal soft ray longest 2nd or 3rd, 2.05-2.45 in head; outer margin of anal fin from 4th -8th soft ray straight to slightly convex; emarginate caudal fin, caudal concavity 5.0-12.0 in head, fin length 1.3-1.55 in head; pectoral fins 1.9-2.2in head; pelvic fins 1.9-2.2 in head (Ref. 4787).
Western Pacific: southern Japan to Australia (Queensland and Western Australia) and eastward to the Caroline Islands and Fiji. Recently recorded from Tonga (Ref. 53797). Often misidentified as Plectropomus maculatus.
Inhabit coral-rich areas of lagoon reefs and mid-shelf reefs (Ref. 6390, 48635). Solitary (Ref 90102). Inactive at night, hiding under ledges (Ref. 9710). Juveniles have a demersal existence in shallow water in reef habitats, especially around coral rubble (Ref. 27259). Adults feed mainly on fish (Ref. 6390). Juveniles feed on small fish and invertebrates such as crustaceans and squid (Ref. 27261). A protogynous hermaphrodite (Ref. 55367). Form several spawning aggregations on a reef occurring around the new moon (Ref. 27259). Eggs float just below the surface (Ref. 6390). Larvae are pelagic (Ref. 6390). P. leopardus is used in cage culture; P. maculatus in Ref. 3081 was probably a mixture of P. maculatus and P. leopardus; the Plectropomus sp. used for the experiments reported in Ref. 4719 consisted predominantly of P. leopardus, with some P. maculatus (M.F. Capra, pers. comm.). On the Great Barrier Reef, its maximum lifespan is 14 years (Ref. 37816).
A monandric species (Ref. 55367) but now confirmed for diandry (Ref. 103751). Sex change occurs at 32.1 cm TL and 16 years of age (Ref. 55367).
Courtship behavior: a male approaches 1 or more females from behind, changing color from dark brown to brownish white while the edges of median fins remained dark. As the male gets near, it flicks its dorsal and pelvic fins eliciting a mild lateral display from the female. The male rolls onto its side and shakes from side to side as its abdomen passes the female. Takes 15 seconds (Ref. 2160).
Heemstra, P.C. and J.E. Randall, 1993. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 16. Groupers of the world (family Serranidae, subfamily Epinephelinae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the grouper, rockcod, hind, coral grouper and lyretail species known to date. Rome: FAO. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(16):382 p. (Ref. 5222)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)
CITES (Ref. 94142)
Threat to humans
Reports of ciguatera poisoning (Ref. 4821)
Fisheries: commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: commercial
Estimates of some properties based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5078 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01047 (0.00698 - 0.01570), b=3.06 (2.94 - 3.18), based on LWR estimates for species & (Sub)family-body shape (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 4.4 ±0.7 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (tm=2-4; tmax=26; Fec=457,900).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Moderate to high vulnerability (51 of 100) .