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Epinephelus merra Bloch, 1793

Honeycomb grouper
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Native range | All suitable habitat | Point map | Year 2100
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Epinephelus merra   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Image of Epinephelus merra (Honeycomb grouper)
Epinephelus merra
Picture by Randall, J.E.

Philippines country information

Common names: Abo-abo, Alatan, Baghak
Occurrence: native
Salinity: marine
Abundance: | Ref:
Importance: commercial | Ref:
Aquaculture: likely future use | Ref:
Regulations: | Ref:
Uses: live export: yes;
Comments: Known from Puerto Princesa, Palawan (Ref. 58652), Nasugbu, Batangas (Ref. 107854), Calatagan, Batangas (Ref. 107853), Lanuza Bay (Ref. 104756), Sarangani Bay, Paril-Sangay Protected Seascape, Moro Gulf (Ref. 106380). Cultured under experimental conditions in the Philippines (Ref. 4757). . Museum: ZUMT 11135-36. Sitankai, UMMZ 100332. Luzon, Lingayen Gulf, LACM 35970-4, 42467-13. Off Calauit, collected by angling, FRLM 12133. Also Ref. 280, 5222, 10558, 12744, 13724, 48613, 121724.
National Checklist:
Country Information:
National Fisheries Authority:
Occurrences: Occurrences Point map
Main Ref: Broad, G., 2003
National Database:

Common names from other countries

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes(genus, species) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Teleostei (teleosts) > Perciformes/Serranoidei (Groupers) > Epinephelidae (Groupers)
Etymology: Epinephelus: Greek, epinephelos = cloudy (Ref. 45335).
  More on author: Bloch.

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

Marine; reef-associated; depth range 0 - 50 m (Ref. 9710), usually ? - 20 m (Ref. 5222).   Tropical; 35°N - 35°S, 28°E - 129°W (Ref. 5222)

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

Indo-Pacific: South Africa to French Polynesia. Not known from the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, nor Asian mainland.

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 11.0, range 19 - ? cm
Max length : 36.5 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 125599); max. published weight: 1.0 kg (Ref. 125599)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 11; Dorsal soft rays (total): 15-17; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 8. This species is distinguished by the following characters: greatest body depth 2.8-3.3 in SL; head length 2.3-2.6 in SL; preopercle rounded or subangular, the serrae at angle enlarged; upper edge of operculum almost straight; midlateral part of lower jaw with 2-4 rows of teeth, the inner teeth about twice length of outer ones; gill rakers of first gill arch 6-9 + 14-17; dorsal fin spines third to last subequal, the longest 2.4-3.2 in HL; anal fin spines second and third subequal, 2.1-3.0 in HL and longer than depth of peduncle; caudal fin rounded, peduncle depth 3.2-4.1 in HL; pectoral-fin rays 16-18; lateral-line scales 48-54, in series 98-114. Head, body, and fins pale, are covered with close-set (sometimes coalesced), dark brown or reddish brown spots, the interspaces forming an irregular pale reticulum; pectoral fins are covered with distinct small black spots, largely confined to the rays (the best diagnostic colour character of this species) (Ref. 39231, 89707, 90102).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

A solitary fish, in coastal and offshore reefs usually in less than 20 m depth (Ref. 90102); also very common in shallow lagoon and semi-protected seaward reefs. Juveniles are common in thickets of staghorn Acropora corals. Feed on crustaceans and fishes. Increase of piscivory with age is observed in this species. Neither opercular spine nor anterolateral glandular grooves with venom gland is present (Ref. 57406). Current information in the table (dangerous fish) do not match; needs verification. Cultured under experimental conditions in the Philippines (Ref. 4757). In the Hong Kong live fish markets (Ref. 27253). It is important to artisanal fisheries because of its abundance in shallow water and caught with handlines, fish traps, and spear (Ref. 39231).

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

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | 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. 123251)

  Least Concern (LC) ; Date assessed: 17 January 2017

CITES (Ref. 128078)

Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Reports of ciguatera poisoning (Ref. 30298)

Human uses

Fisheries: commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: public aquariums
FAO(Fisheries: production; publication : search) | FishSource | Sea Around Us

More information

Common names
Egg development
Larval dynamics
Aquaculture profile
Allele frequencies
Mass conversion
Stamps, Coins Misc.
Swim. type
Gill area


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Internet sources

Estimates based on models

Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969): 24.6 - 29, mean 27.8 (based on 760 cells).
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82804):  PD50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01202 (0.01064 - 0.01358), b=3.04 (3.02 - 3.06), in cm Total Length, based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245).
Trophic level (Ref. 69278):  3.8   ±0.0 se; based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 120179):  High, minimum population doubling time less than 15 months (K=0.3-0.6).
Fishing Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Low to moderate vulnerability (29 of 100).
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Very high.