Plectropomus areolatus is one of the 7 members of the genus Plectropomus, 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 found in the lagoons of coral reefs, as well as in the outer reefs at depths of about 20 meters. Its distribution, despite being coastal, is wide, being present in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
The body of Plectropomus areolatus is elongated and very robust, with a large rostrum and a large terminal mouth equipped with large canines. They can reach almost 100 cm in maximum total length. Both the preoperculum and operculum have 3 spines. Its dorsal fin has 7-8 robust spines (the third or fourth spine is the longest of them all), followed by 10-12 soft rays. The anal fin has 3 robust spines (the first two spines are embedded in the body and are difficult to distinguish) and 8 soft rays. The caudal fin is truncated to slightly emarginate in shape.
The head, body and fins of Plectropomus areolatus are greenish-gray to brownish-brown or brownish-red, with numerous round to oval dark-edged blue spots (the largest approximately equal in size to the pupil). Most of the spots are within the diameter of adjacent spots. The pelvic fins have dark brown to blackish membranes, and the posterior margin of the caudal fin has a white border and often a blackish submarginal band.
The main diet of Plectropomus areolatus consists of other fish.
It has been reported that during some days prior to the full moon in May, large congregations of specimens of this species gather in a region of the island of Palau. This grouping is done in order to reproduce, so males and females release their sperm and eggs to be fertilized and give rise to larvae. During this reproductive season, males may change their body color and adopt pale tones with 5 irregular dark spots, as well as darken their dorsal and anal fins.Photos: