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Related FAQs: Basses called Hinds

Related Articles: Basses

/A Diversity of Aquatic Life

The Coral Hind, Lapu Lapu, or Miniata Grouper,  Cephalopholis miniata

Bob Fenner

Adult, Heron Island, QLD

    "Hoy, como esta mi pari jo"? It's our friends, Dennis Mok and Marty Beals, very large "family" of friends, cohorts at the Cebu Airport (a large island behind Negros in the Philippines). Thought I was being friendly, trying my few remembered words of Tagalog (I lived in the P.I. as a boy in the sixties). The folks who had been kind enough to pick us up and show us about kind of stared then one of them spoke with a smile. Oh, I see you know some Tagalog (the national language, out of many in this diverse multi-island country). "We speak Cebuano" (makes sense now, as this IS Cebu Island...). "A very different language". I assure you, he was/is correct.

    Luckily, as many Filipinos/as our hosts spoke very good English. We spent many happy moments touring around Lapu Lapu City with these "shell processors" (Marty and Dennis own/operate Tideline in Los Angeles), spending another week down south on Bohol Island diving, photographing. One memorable evening was spent at a very fresh seafood restaurant eating many delicacies, including this articles topic, the Hind (bass of the genus Cephalopholis), known as the Miniata Grouper.

    Another name (of many, as this is an exemplary food as well as pet-fish throughout its wide range) is the Lapu Lapu. Yep, same as the large town name on adjacent Mactan Island. Both commemorate a local hero who dispatched none other than Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 (just seems like yesterday). At any length, the fish, town, man and meal all of the same common appellation. 

    As an ornamental aquatic the Miniata (or Lapu Lapu if you want), is a beautiful species of typical shy bass-like behavior (except when acclimated, at dinner time). Undemanding in terms of water conditions, accepting of most foodstuffs, and very disease resistant, a worthy recipient of the Lapu Lapu name.


    Common in many parts of the tropical Indo-Pacific; Red Sea to Durban, South Africa over to west-central Pacific on most islands. Not Hawai'i or the  Persian Gulf notably.


    Most sold in the trade are a handful of inches. Attains twenty inches in the wild, about half that in captivity. 

Cephalopholis miniata (Forsskal 1775), the Miniata Grouper, Coral Hind. Indo-Pacific: Red Sea to the Line Islands. To eighteen inches in length. Undoubtedly the most prized, frequently used member of the genus for aquariums. A beauty that is intelligent, and capable of gulping up small fishes and motile invertebrates. Adult at right below, four (typically more orange than red), eight inch juveniles and an fifteen inch adult. All in the Red Sea, 

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    Is a breeze with this species. It is a gem to ship, most all arriving in good to go live condition. Given some short while (days) to "rest up" at your dealers, the Miniata is ready to take home.

    Shyness to the extreme is to be expected, so don't be dissuaded from considering a specimen because of its reclusive behavior. Similarly, torn fins incurred through capture, shipping are almost never a problem, and heal quickly with waiting. 

RE: skimmer question, C. miniata sel.        2/7/14
Ok so it sounds like the SRO 3000 may be the way to go.
<One way>
My father was just on the phone with a local place, I am sure you heard of, Champion Lighting, and the guy on the phone, said he would go with an ASM G3 skimmer. I looked them up and did not see anything good about them.
<See WWM re these Euroreef knock-offs>
Another thing I wanted to ask was regarding bio balls. In order to fit any decent skimmer in my sump, I had to remove the bio balls case which sits on rails. With it my foot print for skimmer is 7 inches. Without it becomes 20 inches. I spoke with Jeremy of reef octopus (the number for customer service) and when I told him I removed them, he said I needed them for surface area bacteria. I was under the impression I already had enough surface area between live rocks, tank, sump, pumps etc/ So, bio balls, to be or not to be?
<Up to you>
And lastly, one of my lfs has a minuatus grouper that he has had for a few months. It is 6 inches long, and when I asked if he knew where it was from, he said Bali, which I know is Indonesia. When the time comes, and that fish is still available, should I get that, or should I get one from Fiji or Sri Lanka? I know the indo's are usually cheaper. He wants 100 for this one, but because my other grouper was killed by trigger, he said he would let me have it for 60.
<Cephalopholis are about all the same wherever they originate. B>



     As with computer hard drive space, cash reserves in the bank, bigger is better when it comes to housing true basses (family Serranidae) including the genus Cephalopholis. I wouldn't place even a small specimen in less than a sixty gallon tank. To encourage outgoing behavior and the animal's overall happiness a system of twice that volume is called for. More than one or adding a similar species? Double it again. 


   This is a notably undemanding species that does best under standard NSW (Near SeaWater) conditions of tropical sea temperature (low seventies to mid eighties), specific gravity, composition. For such big eaters, as you might imagine, enhanced circulation, aeration and overall filtration are a plus. 


Territoriality: Tankmates

    As with many true basses, this Hind does not like to share its hiding spaces or feeding niche with other fishes. "Yawning" behavior, squaring off side by side with tankmates are signs of aggression that should not be ignored (someone should be moved). Large enough (hundreds of gallons) systems, plenty of cover/caves, utilizing differently colored/marked though related species greatly diminish the likelihood of negative interactions. 

    See below re "foods/feeding" regarding the propensity of this fish to eat mobile tankmates. Animals of smaller than mouth diameter (including cleaner organisms) are often ingested as food.


    Not known in captivity.

Digging Behavior:

    This species can be a prodigious excavator, moving sand, good-sized rubble about with its mouth. The usual cautions here to be careful about rock and other heavy decor placement. Best "wiggled" into place, touching the "bottom" of the tank, filter or plenum plates, and/or rock below. 


    Though this Hind feeds principally on fishes and to a lesser extent crustaceans in the wild, it is an exemplary omnivore in captivity, readily feeding on any/all foods of size, bulk that will fit its mouth. Any small-enough fishes and crustacean livestock are potential game. 

    As with most predaceous captives, it is best not to over or to frequently feed your Hind. Twice, thrice weekly is sufficient. 

Disease: Prevention, Control:

    Should your system succumb to an infectious or parasitic disease, your Cephalopholis will be amongst the last to show signs or perish from same. This fish can catch the usual reef scourges (ich, velvet), but is very rarely a carrier. Like most basses they're easily treated for such problems with common medications and environmental manipulation (e.g. hyposalinity). 


    What more could a pet-fish hobbyist want in the way of a larger "show" specimen for their larger marine system? The Coral Hind, aka Miniata Grouper, is strikingly beautiful, readily available, intelligent, hardy, adaptable to captive conditions. An ideal fish addition if you have larger than mouth-size fish and crustacean tankmates. 

Miniatus Grouper on the menu - Guangzhou, China     5/21/13
Bob, I returned from a China adoption trip a few weeks ago. While at a restaurant in Guangzhou, I took this picture of the live dinner display tank. There were several specimens waiting to be served as a tasty dish that we pay big bucks for in the trade on this side of the globe. My young daughters speak and read Mandarin (conversational level), but we couldn't find or price this miniatus grouper on the menu. Anyway, thought the crew might enjoy this picture. 1', maybe? My 7 year old daughter gives some size reference.
<Ah yes; Lapu Lapu, Cephalopholis miniata... an ignominious end here.

Bibliography/Further Reading:

Axelrod, Herbert R. & Warren E. Burgess, 1981. Groupers and their relatives. TFH 8/81.

Burgess, Warren E., Herbert R. Axelrod and Raymond E. Hunziker III, Atlas of Aquarium Fishes, v. 1 Marines. 1990. T.F.H. Publications.

Campbell, Douglas G. 1979. Marines: their care and keeping, Groupers and their allies. Parts 1-3. 9-11/79 FAMA.

Fenner, Bob. 1995. A diversity of aquatic life. The Family Serranidae. FAMA 9/95.

Fenner, Robert. 1996. Basses, groupers or hinds? The genus Cephalopholis. TFH 12/96.

Fenner, Robert. 1998. The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. Microcosm, VT. 432pp.

Goldstein, Robert. 1992. Spectacular serranids. AFM 11/92

Hunziker, Ray. 1988. Orange lightning- experiences with Cephalopholis miniatus. TFH 3/88.

Jonklaas, Rodney, 1975. Search for the super-duper grouper. TFH 8/75.

Michael, Scott W. 1998. Gorgeous groupers. One genus really does stand out. AFM 1/98.

Nelson, Joseph S. Fishes of the World. Wiley. 3rd Ed. 1994.

Two questions. NLS Quinine product; Cephalopholis stkg., sel.      2/11/15
hey bob,
I have read you are a fan of quinine based Meds for ich as opposed to hypo.
What do you think of the new life spectrum product "ich shield powder"? It is supposedly Chloroquine phosphate.
<Don't have any personal experience with this product, but know the owner of the company (Pablo Tepoot) to be an honest, competent person>
Also, I asked my lfs to bring in a bigger miniatus grouper a few weeks ago, and he brought in that's 6 to 7 inches.
Does that side grouper translate better than a smaller one?
<Mmm; no... a three-four inch specimen is ideal... Unless you have large/r tankmates already>
Also, does it really make a difference with them if they are indo pacific, vs. Sri Lanka or Fiji? Not concerned color wise, simply health and hardiness.
<Just not P.I. or Indo... all where else are superior. Bob Fenner>
Re: Two questions     2/11/15
Thanks bob. Is that quinine sulfate or Chloroquine phosphate you prefer?
<See WWM re>

I see it is not easy to get a hold of, wonder if the fish pHarm. crypto pro is any good? 
I will ask lfs if he knows locale of grouper. It came from quality marine, so he may not even know.
I can almost definitively say source is huge. My gray and blue angel from a month ago are doing well, as they were from Florida, caught and shipped. A year ago from California, dead in a week.

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