Birdwire Rockcod (species: Epinephelus merra) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Epinephelus merra
Birdwire Rockcod

©Andy Lewis: An adult Birdwire Rockcod

©Andy Lewis: A Birdwire Rockcod with darker vertical blotches evident

©Anne Hoggett: A small specimen (about 9 cm long) of Epinephelus merra at North Point, Lizard Island.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Perciformes
Family Serranidae
Genus Epinephelus
Species Epinephelus merra
Status least concern



Distinguishing features

A small rock cod covered with closely spaced brown blotches, becoming more widely spaced on the belly and smaller and more closely spaced on the head. Some of the blotches on the flanks are merged. Individuals can assume a colour pattern with vague dark vertical bands. Lower jaw projects beyond the upper one.


  • Up to 31 cm (Standard length)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.


Similar taxa


©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Areas of good coral cover on reef fronts, flats, and lagoonal and back reef patches.

Can be found in most locations around the island.


The Birdwire Rockcod is a common small Serranid at Lizard Island, and like others in the Family, it is a monandric protogynous hermaphrodite, with fish starting life as females and changing to male at 3-5 years of age. Spawning takes place during the summer months, shortly after the full moon. This species is an ambush predator, lying in wait for small fishes to venture close to its hiding place, before making a rapid attacking rush.

Web resources


  • Alan, M.A. and M. Nakamura (2007). Efferent duct differentiation during female-to-male sex change in honeycomb grouper Epinephelus merra, Journal of Fish Biology, 71: 1192-1202.
  • Bott, N.J., T.L. Miller and T.H. Cribb (2013). Bucephalidae (Platyhelminthes: Digenea) of Plectropomus (Serranidae: Epinephelinae) in the tropical Pacific. Parasitology Research, 112: 2561-2584. LIRS catalog number 1717.
  • D Beukers-Stewart, B. and G.P. Jones (2004). The influence of prey abundance on the feeding ecology of two piscivorous species of coral reef fish, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 299: 155-184. LIRS catalog number 868.
  • View all references