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/The Conscientious Aquarist

Indonesian Basses, Fancy and Otherwise, Family Serranidae

Bob Fenner


Basses, Groupers, Family Serranidae:

Anyperodon leucogrammicus (Valenciennes 1828), the Slender Grouper. Indo-Pacific, including the Red Sea, out to the Marshall Islands. To twenty one inches in length. This fish always draws stares for its streamlined predatory good looks. An aquarium juvenile and one in the Seychelles. Monotypic.


Cephalopholis argus Bloch & Schneider 1801, the Peacock or Argus Hind or Blue-Spotted Grouper. Indo-Pacific, Red Sea to French Polynesia. Introduced into Hawai'i and the tropical eastern Pacific coast as a food and game fish. To a foot and a half in length. Small, medium, and large specimens (6, 12, 16" respectively), in the Red Sea, Hawai'i and French Polynesia.

Cephalopholis cyanostigma (Valenciennes 1828), Bluespotted Rockcod. Western Pacific; Philippines to Australia. To fourteen inches overall length. One skulking around Redang, Malaysia, the vertical off Queensland, Australia.  http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Country/

Cephalopholis formosa (Shaw & Nodder 1812), the Bluelined Hind.  Indo-west Pacific. To thirteen inches in length. Often misidentified in the pet fish literature and sold as C. boenak (nee boenack). Shy at first and scrappy with other similar-appearing fishes. Images: Aquarium and Andaman Sea. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/

Cephalopholis leopardus Lacepede 1801, the Leopard Hind. Indo-Pacific. To a mere seven inches in length. One at an L.A. wholesalers, another in S. Sulawesi. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Country/

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. The first in Australia, the other one in the Red Sea. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Country/

Cephalopholis polleni  (Bleeker 1868), the Harlequin Hind. To 43 cm. Western Indo-Pacific. This one in S. Sulawesi. A beauty eh? http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Country/

Cephalopholis sexmaculata (Ruppell 1830), the Six-spot or -blotch Hind. Indo-Pacific, down to South Africa, over to French Polynesia. To nineteen inches in length. A secretive species. One emerging toward nighttime in the Maldives to hunt, another in Mabul, Malaysia. 

Cephalopholis sonnerati (Valenciennes 1828), the Tomato Hind. Indo-Pacific; east Africa to Australia and southern Japan. Not found in the Red Sea. To 57cm. in length. Eat small fishes and crustaceans. Mabul, Malaysia image. 

Cephalopholis spiloparaea (Valenciennes 1828), the Strawberry Hind. Indo-Pacific in deeper water. To eight inches. Similar to C. nigripinnis, but lacks its dark pectoral fins. In the Maldives and S. Sulawesi. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Country/

Cephalopholis urodeta (Forster 1801), the Darkfin Hind to science is the V-Tailed Grouper in the aquarium interest. Indo-Pacific, down to South Africa, over to French Polynesia. To eleven inches in length. Aquarium photograph.


Cromileptes altivelis (Valenciennes 1828), the Panther Grouper to the hobby is the Humpback Grouper to science. Western Pacific distribution. To twenty eight inches in the wild. This eight inch individual in an aquarium.

Genus Epinephelus:

Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus (Bloch 1790), the White- or Smallspotted Grouper. Indo-Pacific. Often confused and sold as/with, E. ongus, E. summana, E. corallicola. To thirty inches in length in the wild. This one photographed in the Maldives. 

Epinephelus corallicola (Valenciennes 1828), the Coral Grouper. Western Pacific. To eighteen inches in length. Aquarium image.

Epinephelus fasciatus (Forsskal 1775), the Blacktip Grouper. You might think "fasciated" might be a better common name for this Bass, until seeing how changeable its coloring is in the wild. Indo-Pacific. to sixteen inches maximum length. At right, one in Nuku Hiva, Marquesas. Images below: first taken at Australia, the other two in the upper Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea. 

Epinephelus flavocaeruleus (Lacepede 1802), the Blue and Yellow Grouper. Indian Ocean, but not the Red Sea. To almost three feet in length in the wild. This one photographed in the Wilhelma Aquarium, Stuttgart, Germany at about two feet in length.

Epinephelus fuscoguttatus (Forsskal 1775), the Brown-Mottled Grouper. To more than thirty inches in length. Red Sea profile and Fiji images.

Epinephelus lanceolatus (Bloch 1790), the Lanceolatus or Giant Grouper. To eight feet and three hundred kilograms. The largest bony fish found on coral reefs. Public Aquarium image.

Epinephelus maculatus (Bloch 1790), the Spotted Grouper. Indo-Pacific; Cocos-Keeling through Micronesia. To 60 cm. A juvenile in Fiji and a larger one in N. Sulawesi. Eat reef fishes, crustaceans and octopi in the wild.

Epinephelus malabaricus (Bloch & Schneider 1801), the Malabar Grouper. Indo-Pacific, including the Red Sea. To seven feet long. Happy ones in the Red Sea.

Epinephelus merra Bloch 1793, the Honeycomb Grouper. Indo-Pacific, but not the Red Sea. To about a foot maximum length. A real beauty and common in the aquarium trade. Images from Bunaken/Sulawesi/Indonesia and Fiji.

Epinephelus ongus (Bloch 1790), the White-Streaked Grouper. Indo-west Pacific. To about a foot long. Fast learner in getting along, feeding in captivity. Aquarium and Malaysian photos.

Epinephelus polyphekadion (Bleeker 1849), the Camouflage Grouper. Indo-Pacific, including the Red Sea. A beauty, but grows to about three feet in length. Mostly feeds on crabs and fishes in the wild. This foot and a half specimen in the Red Sea. Formerly known as E. microdon.

Epinephelus spilotoceps Schultz 1953, the Foursaddle Grouper. Indo-Pacific, but not the Red Sea, and punctuated distribution in the west Pacific. To fourteen inches in length. Periodically imported into the ornamental aquatics trade. This one in a typical repose in the Maldives and N. Sulawesi.



Gracila albomarginata (Fowler & Beane 1930), the Masked Grouper. Indo-Pacific, but not the Red Sea. To sixteen inches overall length. Monotypic genus (one species). One photographed in the Maldives and another from S. Sulawesi opening wide for a cleaner job. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Country/

Genus Plectropomus:

Plectropomus areolatus (Ruppell 1830), the Squaretail Grouper. Indo-Pacific, including the Red Sea but not Australia. To twenty nine inches in length. Young one in Australia/Heron Island, adult in the Bunaken, Indonesia.

Plectropomus leopardus (Lacepede 1802), the Leopard Coral Grouper. Western Pacific. To forty six inches in length. Juvenile (about six inches) in Australia and semi-adult one in Fiji, from where they're occasionally exported.
Plectropomus oligacanthus (Bleeker 1854), the Highfin Coral Grouper. Western Pacific. To 45 cm.. This one off of S. Sulawesi. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Country/

Plectropomus pessuliferus (Fowler 1904), the Roving Coral Grouper. Indo Pacific; Red Sea, Zanzibar Sumatra, Fiji. Two subspecies. P. p. marisburi in the Red Sea, P. p. pessuliferus in the rest of the Indo-Pacific. Here is the subspecies of the Red Sea. 

Genus Liopropoma: Four Indo. species.

Liopropoma susumi (Jordan & Seale 1906), Meteor Perch. To 9 cm. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea to Micronesia. Found on/in reefs to 34 meters depth.

Liopropoma swalesi (Fowler & Bean 1930). To 5 cm. in length. Found near dense branching coral at about 25 meter depths. Western Pacific: Indonesia and New Britain. Distinctive orange stripes. Aquarium photo by Hiroyuki Tanaka. 

Fancy Sea Basses, The Subfamily Anthiinae:

Genus Nemanthias; Threadfin Anthias: One species:

Nemanthias carberryi Smith 1954, the Threadfin Anthias. East Africa over to the Maldives. To four inches in length. Best kept in a large system in a haremic setting, one male, several females. 

Genus Pseudanthias:

Pseudanthias dispar (Herre 1955), the Dispar Anthias. Indo-west Pacific. To almost four inches in length. Hard to keep if not immediately trained to take food. Best fed a few times daily.  Females have slightly longer pelvic fins. A gorgeous male in the Singapore Aquarium, Sentosa Island and N. Sulawesi males and females from the last.
Pseudanthias evansi (Smith 1954), Evan's Anthias, Yellowback or Yellowtail Anthias. Indian Ocean, eastern Africa coast over to the Maldives. To five inches in length. A difficult aquarium species. Similar to the hardier Pseudanthias bartlettorum, which has a yellow dorsal fin. Below: Aquarium, Maldives and N. Sulawesi images.
Pseudanthias huchtii (Bleeker 1857), the Red-Cheeked Fairy Basslet. To five inches in length. Indo-Australian distribution. A female off of Mabul, Malaysia and a male off of Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia. A relatively hardy aquarium species, can be scrappy.

Pseudanthias hypselosoma Bleeker 1878, Stocky Anthias. Maldives to Australia, southern Japan. To 19 cm. in length according to fishbase, though I've never seen one over four inches in the wild. Mabul, Malaysia and N. Sulawesi pix. 

Pseudanthias lori (Lubbock & Randall 1976), Lori's Anthias. To five inches in length. Indo-Pacific. Close up of an individual in Mabul, Malaysia and in a wholesaler's cubicle in L.A.
Pseudanthias luzonensis (Katayama & Masuda 1973), the Yellow-Lined Anthias. To five and a half inches long. Males with three yellow lines and red spot on their dorsal fin. Males off Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia.

Pseudanthias pascalus (Jordan & Tanaka 1927), the Amethyst Anthias. Tropical Pacific. To six inches in length. Difficult to keep in captivity. Needs large systems, live-meaty foods. One in the Cooks, the other in Fiji.

Pseudanthias pleurotaenia (Bleeker 1857), the Square-Spot Anthias. To eight inches in length. Western Pacific.
Pseudanthias squamipinnis (Peters 1855), the Lyretail Anthias. Red Sea to western Pacific. To four and a half inches in length. A tough, but sometimes mean aquarium species. At right: Male and females shown Aquarium and Red Sea. Below, males in N. Sulawesi, Red Sea and Fiji.
Pseudanthias tuka (Herre & Montalban 1927), the Purple Anthias. Western Pacific. To five inches overall length.  Pictured: a group at right in Australia. Below are males in captivity and Bunaken, Indonesia, and a female off Australia.

Serranocirrhitus latus Watanabe 1949, the Fathead or Hawkfish Anthias. Deep bodied, and to about five inches in the wild. Shy... Resides in caves by day. Need hiding spaces in captivity and peaceful tankmates. Image taken in Bunaken, Indonesia. 

Soapfishes, Subfamily Grammistinae, or Family Grammistidae:

Belonoperca chabanaudi Fowler & Bean 1930, the Arrowhead Soapfish. Indo-Pacific, far West Pacific to East Africa. To six inches in length. Shy and retiring species found singly under overhangs and in caves.

Diploprion bifasciatum Cuvier 1828, the Barred Soapfish. Indo-west Pacific. To ten inches long in the wild. A shy, but beautiful addition to a reasonably peaceful aquarium setting. Eats small fishes in wild. Hides in/around caves.  Below, light aquarium four inch juvenile, eight inch  adult light and dark phase Australian specimens of Diploprion bifasciatum.
Grammistes sexlineatus (Thunberg 1932), the Sixline Soapfish or Grouper. Indo-Pacific, including the Red Sea. To twelve inches in length. Juveniles  in the Red Sea and Maldives, and adult in captivity. Monotypic genus.

Pogonoperca punctata (Valenciennes 1830), the Clown Grouper. Indo-Pacific. To fourteen inches maximum length.

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