Eightbar grouper (Epinephelus octofasciatus)

Also known as: Convict grouper, convict rockcod
Synonyms: Epinephelus compressus
French: Merou Bagnard
Spanish: Mero Carcelario
GenusEpinephelus (1)
SizeMax 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: 

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2011)
  2. Heemstra, P.C. and Randall, J.E. (1993) FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 16: Groupers of the World. Food and Agricultural Organization, Rome.
  3. Rome, B., Newman, S.J., Jackson, G. and Norriss, J. (2007) Gascoyne Wetline Fish Identification Field Guide. Department of Fisheries, Perth, Western Australia.
  4. Campbell, A. and Dawes, J. (2004) Encyclopedia of Underwater Life. Oxford University Press, Oxford.