Cook Islands Biodiversity & Natural Heritage

Epinephelus hexagonatus

Pātuki Paru

Hexagon Grouper

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General Information

COMMON NAMES: Hexagon Grouper, Hexagon Rockcod, White Speckled Rockcod, Orange Sea-Bass, Starspotted Grouper; German Weisspunkt-Wabenbarsch; French Mérou Melifère, Loche à Hexagones

TRADITIONAL NAMES: Pātuki / Pātuki Paru < Pātuki Tarāo (RR), Karakarau (MG), Marau (AT MK MT), Mōke‘u (AK), Paremo / Tarao? (PL), Veve (TS TW), Paremo / Tarao? (MH), Paremo / Tarao? (RK), Eve (PK NS); Other Polynesian - Tarao Aau (TAH), Kokotika (TUA), Taaiao / Teeiao (MQA), Ako (MVA); COMMENT: Aitutaki: ?ID as Mōke‘ū said to not be in lagoon, and hexagonatus is in lagoon.

GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION: NATIVE e.Africa - Henderson Is.; n. to s.Japan

COOK ISLANDS STATUS: Native; S.Group - common; N.Group - common; Marine, near-shore; Mainly in shallow outer-reef ares with surge.

KEY FEATURES: A small "honeycomb grouper" to 20cm SL. Thickset (depth 3 in SL), tail rounded and jaw to less than pupil-Ø beyond hind-edge of eye. Entire body has close-set dark brown polygons (mainly hexagons) with pale interspaces reduced to white triangles at corners, similarly on Pectorals, soft Dorsal, Anal and tail; unbroken large blotch behind the eye; 4 dark blotches along base of Dorsal Fin + 1 on tail-base; 5 irregular diagonal bars below upper mid-sides. D XI, midside lower jaw with 3-5 rows teeth, 2nd anal-fin spine longer than 3rd spine and than tail-base height, Gill Rakers 7-9 + 15-17.

SIMILAR SPECIES: The first (alphabetically) of six local "honeycomb groupers with rounded tails. (2) Highfin Grouper (Epinephelus maculatus) has anterior section of spinous Dorsal Fin elevated about 50% (vs not elevated). (3) Blackspot Grouper (Epinephelus melanostigma) has only 1 dark dorsal blotch at base last 4 Dorsal-fin spines. (4) Honeycomb Grouper (Epinephelus merra) polygons relatively large, interspaces narrow pale lines, polygons often fuse to form short stripes; without any dorsal dark blotches; pectoral spots very small. (5) Foursaddle Grouper (Epinephelus spilotoceps) interspaces form fine pale lines, without white spots at corners (vs white dots); without unbroken botch behind eye (vs unbroken blotch). (6) Greasy Grouper (Epinephelus tauvina) upper jaw reaches eye-width behind eye (vs. max. of any other "honeycomb" to 50% eye-width behind); spot interspace usually wide, sometimes narrow; 3-4 dorsal blotches, faint wide diagonal bands.

Enlarged Image of 'Epinephelus hexagonatus'

Cook Islands Distribution

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Southern Group: Present    Makatea:

Northern Group: Present

Key to Symbols

Scientific Taxonomy

Epinephelus hexagonatus (Forster, 1801)
SYNONYMS: Holocentrus hexagonatus [O]; Serranus hexagonatus

TAXONOMY: ANIMALIA; CHORDATA; GNATHOSTOMATA (Jawed Vertebrates); PISCES; OSTEICHTHYES; Perciformes; Percoidei; Percoidea; SERRANIDAE, Epinephelinae

Vouchers & References

Cooks: Heemstra & Randall 1993 FAO Fish. Synops. #125, Vol.16. Rarotonga: BPBM1983, 5954. Mangaia: specimen, College, 9/2000, ID GMcC; Taratara, Keia District, small reef-pool, clear water - no currrent or vegetation, 27m from shore 0-1m, CAS61775/ Katoe, Keia Dist. Deep sea beyond reef, CAS61803 (DSM58). Atiu: field-specimen, College collection, 10/2000, ID GMcC. Mauke: fieldspecimen, College, 3/2001, ID GMcC. Aitutaki: field-specimen, NBSAP School, 12/2000, ID GM. Tongareva: ANSP161250. Manihiki: 4 specimens #A958 (B&M74). Pukapuka: informant reports at NBSAP meeting, 2/2004. Suwarrow: field ID Sims (Sims EIA99).

Special Reference: Heemstra & Randall 1993, FAO Fish. Synops. #125, Vol.16

text p.108 Myers (1991 2nd Ed.) Fishes of Micronesia
plate 33d Myers (1991 2nd Ed.) Fishes of Micronesia
p.108 Randall et al. (1990) Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef....
p.187 Burgess et al. (1988) Atlas of Marine Aquarium Fishes (TFH)
plate 28-02 Lieske & Myers (1996) Coral Reef Fishes
plate 26-09 Allen (1997) Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia....
Species No. p267 Munro (1967) Fishes of New Guinea

Data Update History (information):
zTX, zB02, zM02, zupM06a, zD02

Web Resources

Citation Information

McCormack, Gerald (2007) Cook Islands Biodiversity Database, Version 2007.2. Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust, Rarotonga. Online at Copy citation to system clipboard
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