Eightbar grouper (Epinephelus octofasciatus)
|Also known as:||Convict grouper, convict rockcod|
|Size||Max length: at least 1,300 mm (1)|
The eightbar grouper is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
The eightbar grouper (Epinephelus octofasciatus) owes its name quite simply to the presence of eight, broad, dark-brown bars that cross its body from the nape to the caudal fin. A faint brown band also runs from the eye to the operculum, while the rest of its robust body is largely buff in colour. The pelvic fins, the latter half of the anal fins and the spiny dorsal fin are blackish brown (2) (3).
The eightbar grouper has an Indo-West Pacific distribution ranging from South Africa to the Arabian Gulf, east to Japan, Southeast Asia, Australia and the islands of the Western Pacific (1) (2).
Favours deep rocky reefs, the eightbar grouper is found from depths of 150 to 300 metres (1) (2).
Very little is known about the biology of the eightbar grouper (1), but like other Epinephelus species, it is probably a protogynous hermaphrodite, meaning that individuals begin mature life as female and change sex later to become male (2). Epinephelus species tend to be voracious predators, with fish and crustaceans taken near the sea bottom forming the bulk of prey (2) (4). The maximum lifespan of the eightbar grouper has been estimated at 56 years (1).
The eightbar grouper is threatened by commercial, and probably recreational, fisheries, particularly in Western Australia, but the extent of the impact is not known. Although it is seemingly rare throughout its range, its abundance might be underestimated owing to its preference for deeper waters (1).
Further research into the eightbar grouper’s reproductive biology, population size and its involvement in fisheries is crucial to accurately assessing its conservation status (1).
For further information on the conservation of groupers:
Grouper and Wrasse Specialist Group:
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- Anal fins: In fish, an unpaired fin on the under surface of a fish, behind the anus.
- Caudal fin: The tail fin of a fish, used for steering, balancing or propulsion.
- Crustaceans: Diverse group of arthropods (a phylum of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton) characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (parts of the mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, slaters, woodlice and barnacles.
- Dorsal fin: The unpaired fin found on the back of the body of fish, or the raised structure on the back of most cetaceans.
- Operculum: A hard, bony flap that covers and protects the gill slits of fish.
- Pelvic fins: In fish, the pair of fins found on the underside of the body.
- Protogynous hermaphrodite: An animal that begins its life cycle as a female. As the animal ages, based on internal or external triggers, it shifts sex to become a male animal.
IUCN Red List (April, 2011)
- Heemstra, P.C. and Randall, J.E. (1993) FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 16: Groupers of the World. Food and Agricultural Organization, Rome.
- Rome, B., Newman, S.J., Jackson, G. and Norriss, J. (2007) Gascoyne Wetline Fish Identification Field Guide. Department of Fisheries, Perth, Western Australia.
- Campbell, A. and Dawes, J. (2004) Encyclopedia of Underwater Life. Oxford University Press, Oxford.