Epinephelus flavocaeruleus is one of the 87 members of the genus Epinephelus, which together with 75 additional genera make up the sea basses family (Serranidae) in which a total of 538 species are currently described. This species is widespread in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, from the east coast of Africa to Sumatra. It is present in the Gulf of Aden, but absent in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. It is a solitary and sedentary species that defends a territory. Although juveniles are usually found in shallower waters, adults can be present up to 150 meters deep.
Epinephelus flavocaeruleus is a medium-sized fish, which can reach a maximum length of 90 cm, although the average size is usually around 45 cm. It has a deep and compressed body. The preoperculum is subangular, with a serrated angle. The upper edge of the operculum is horizontal or slightly convex. The dorsal fin contains 9 spines (without incisions between the interspinal membranes) and 16-17 soft rays, while the anal fin has 3 spines and 8 soft rays. The caudal fin is truncated.
As for the coloration of Epinephelus flavocaeruleus, the head as well as the body are dark violet to dark grayish blue. Pale blue speckles may be present. The fins and jaws are bright yellow. In some specimens, the edges of the caudal fin, the margin of the soft-rayed part of the dorsal fin and the anal fin, as well as the tips of the pelvic fins are black. The yellow color fades as the fish grows and larger adults are usually dark grayish, dark blue, purple, reddish brown or nearly black.
The genus Epinephelus has the ability to change sex, more specifically they are protogynous hermaphrodites which means that females can become males at one point in their life. This sex change usually occurs in the non-breeding season and can be caused by social stimuli, age, growth and body size. However, the initial trigger for sex change remains unknown.Photos:
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