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Plectropomus maculatus  (Bloch, 1790)

Spotted coralgrouper
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  • Image of Plectropomus maculatus (Spotted coralgrouper)
    Plectropomus maculatus
  • Image of Plectropomus maculatus (Spotted coralgrouper)
    Plectropomus maculatus

Australia country information

Common names: Barcheek coral trout, Bar-cheeked trout, Barred-cheek coral trout
Occurrence: native
Salinity: marine
Abundance: abundant (always seen in some numbers) | Ref: Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993
Importance: minor commercial | Ref: Johannes, R.E. and J.W. MacFarlane, 1991
Aquaculture: never/rarely | Ref: Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993
Regulations: restricted | Ref: Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993
Uses: live export: yes;
Comments: Known from Houtman Abrolhos in Western Australia to Gladstone, Queensland (Ref. 3150). Also known from the Torres Strait Islands (Ref. 13465); Northern Australia (Ref. 90102). Commercial fishery: Bar-cheeked trout are fished in western and northern Australian waters by demersal otter trawling, trapping, droplining and handlining (north of Carnarvon in Western Australia). Coral trout, in general, are the major Queensland commercial finfish, worth about A$8.2 million in 1989-90. They are one of the target species groups of the Queensland East Coast Reef Line Fishery and comprise 31-34% of the catch from that Fishery (Ref. 27262, 27263). The fishing fleet operates predominantly from ports between Cardwell and Mackay (Ref. 27263) and is very mobile. It concentrates in regions such as the Swain Reefs, the Whitsunday Island Group and the far northern Great Barrier Reef on a rotational basis. The Reef Line Fishery is daytime based and conducted by individuals operating small dories or dinghies ('tender vessels') working to a mother ship. Generally, coral trout are caught in commercial quantities from Torres Strait to just south of Rockhampton (Ref. 27262). Catches peak in the waters off Mackay and only small catches are made south of Gladstone. Although coral trout are caught throughout the year, catches and fishing effort are higher from August to October (Ref. 26263). In north Queensland, coral trout are caught by shallow and deepwater handlining off the reef crests. They may also be caught using rod-and-reel and by trolling ('wogging'). Cut baits from oily fish such as tunas and mackerel (Scombridae), frozen pilchards (Sardinops neopilchardus) from Western Australia and shark (Carcharhinus species), and also squid are commonly used (Ref. 27264). In contrast to Queensland, coral trout are a minor part of Western Australian and Northern Territory fisheries. There, bar-cheeked trout are caught at depths of between 50 m and 100 m. Fish traps used in Western Australia are generally circular and they are usually baited with pilchards. Coral trout caught in traps range from 41 cm to 76 cm FL (Ref. 27266). Between 1979 and 1991, first Taiwanese, and latter Thai and Chinese, fleets operated a demersal trawl fishery in northern Australia from the North West Shelf to the Arafura Sea. They used pair trawlers and some stern trawlers. Australian stern trawlers entered the Arafura Sea fishery after 1987 and the North West Shelf fishery in 1989. Coral trout comprised 38% of the reported 'cod' catches in the demersal trawl fishery (based on an assessment of the Arafura Sea catches) and they were more abundant in catches on the North West Shelf to 21°S and 120°E. Fishing was carried out all year although fishing effort was concentrated on the North West Shelf from October to March (Ref. 27275). Coral trout are an excellent table fish marketed mostly fresh, gilled and gutted, or as fillets. Bar-cheeked trout caught in the trap-and-line fishery in northwestern Western Australia used to be marketed with Lutjanus sebae as 'red emperor' but they are now marketed as 'coral trout'. Recreational fishery: In north Queensland waters, considerable quantities of coral trout are taken by handline and rod-and-reel. The fish are caught mainly during the day in depths to about 25 m (Ref. 27264). Coral trout are also caught by spearfishing to about 20 m depth. Small vessels are used on inshore reefs. Fishing in deeper water to 40 m is occasionally conducted from charter vessels (Ref. 27262). Similar fishing activities are carried out in other States. The quantity of coral trout taken in the recreational fishery in Queensland is estimated to be the same as, or more than, the quantity taken in the commercial fishery. The largest recorded coral trout caught by a recreational fisher was 23,600 g from Queensland (Australian Underwater Federation records). Resource status: In Queensland, the average size of coral trout is maller on reefs that are fished compared with the size of coral trout on closed reefs in the Capricorn Reefs area (Ref. 27276). Over the whole Great Barrier Reef however, coral trout densities until 1993, appear to have remained stable over a considerable time period. As of 1993, despite both recreational and commercial fisheries targeting the same species using the same gear and methods, it appeared that the resource had not been over-fished. However, fishing effort on coral trout is increasing from both fisheries. Museum: CSIRO CA2251 (Ref. 5978). Also Ref. 4787, 48635.
National Checklist:
Country Information:
National Fisheries Authority:
Occurrences: Occurrences Point map
Main Ref: Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993
National Database:

Common names from other countries

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

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: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Marine; reef-associated; depth range 5 - 100 m (Ref. 6390).   Tropical; 21°N - 28°S, 117°E - 159°E (Ref. 5222)

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Western Pacific: Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Arafura Sea (Ref. 9819), Solomon Islands, and Australia (from Houtman Abrolhos in Western Australia to Gladstone, Queensland) (Ref. 3150). This species was formerly listed as occurring in the western Indian Ocean based on a misidentification of Plectropomus pessuliferus.

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 125 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 90102); max. published weight: 25.0 kg (Ref. 5222)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 7 - 8; Dorsal soft rays (total): 10-12; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 8.

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Found in protected coastal reef in mixed algae and coral habitat (Ref. 48635). Common on inshore coastal reefs but absent in clear offshore reefs (Ref. 9710). Juveniles have a demersal existence in shallow water in reef habitats, especially around coral rubble (Ref. 27259). Migrate over short distances to spawn, forming aggregations (Ref. 6390). May move into shallow water to feed (Ref. 6390). Eggs float just below the water surface (Ref. 6390). Pelagic larvae are found in habitats similar to those of the adults (Ref. 27260). Juveniles feed on small fish and invertebrates such as crustaceans and squid (Ref. 27261). Commonly used for food. Its flesh is delicate and well appreciated (Ref. 5503). Solitary (Ref 90102).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Confirmed for diandry (Ref. 103751).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator : Heemstra, Phillip C. | Collaborators

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. 115185)

CITES (Ref. 115941)

Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Reports of ciguatera poisoning (Ref. 30298)

Human uses

Fisheries: commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes
FAO(Aquaculture: production; ; publication : search) | FishSource |

More information

FAO areas
Food items
Food consumption
Common names
Egg development
Aquaculture profile
Allele frequencies
Mass conversion
Stamps, Coins Misc.
Swim. type
Gill area


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Estimates of some properties based on models

Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969): 26.1 - 28.8, mean 27.8 (based on 466 cells).
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.5078   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01096 (0.00572 - 0.02100), b=3.05 (2.89 - 3.21), in cm Total Length, based on LWR estimates for this species & (Sub)family-body (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  4.1   ±0.70 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.21; tm=2-3).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Moderate to high vulnerability (51 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Very high.