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Cephalopholis miniata (Coral trout - Forsskal, 1775)

Click on the photos to see the high resolution images. Photos taken at "Water Inn" petshop by John G. Reclos /MCH - Dec. 2005

Another name (of many, as this is an exemplary food as well as pet-fish throughout its wide range) is the Lapu Lapu. Yep, same as the large town name on adjacent Mactan Island. Both commemorate a local hero who dispatched none other than Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 (just seems like yesterday). At any length, the fish, town, man and meal all of the same common appellation. 

    As an ornamental aquatic the Miniata (or Lapu Lapu if you want), is a beautiful species of typical shy bass-like behavior (except when acclimated, at dinner time). Undemanding in terms of water conditions, accepting of most foodstuffs, and very disease resistant, a worthy recipient of the Lapu Lapu name.

Range:

    Common in many parts of the tropical Indo-Pacific; Red Sea to Durban, South Africa over to west-central Pacific on most islands. Not Hawai'i or the  Persian Gulf notably.

Size:

    Most sold in the trade are a handful of inches. Attains twenty inches in the wild, about half that in captivity. 

Selection:

    Is a breeze with this species. It is a gem to ship, most all arriving in good to go live condition. Given some short while (days) to "rest up" at your dealers, the Miniata is ready to take home.

    Shyness to the extreme is to be expected, so don't be dissuaded from considering a specimen because of its reclusive behavior. Similarly, torn fins incurred through capture, shipping are almost never a problem, and heal quickly with waiting. 

Environment

Physical:

     As with computer hard drive space, cash reserves in the bank, bigger is better when it comes to housing true basses (family Serranidae) including the genus Cephalopholis. I wouldn't place even a small specimen in less than a sixty gallon tank. To encourage outgoing behavior and the animal's overall happiness a system of twice that volume is called for. More than one or adding a similar species? Double it again. 

Chemical:

   This is a notably undemanding species that does best under standard NSW (Near SeaWater) conditions of tropical sea temperature (low seventies to mid eighties), specific gravity, composition. For such big eaters, as you might imagine, enhanced circulation, aeration and overall filtration are a plus. 

Behavior

Territoriality: Tankmates

    As with many true basses, this Hind does not like to share its hiding spaces or feeding niche with other fishes. "Yawning" behavior, squaring off side by side with tankmates are signs of aggression that should not be ignored (someone should be moved). Large enough (hundreds of gallons) systems, plenty of cover/caves, utilizing differently colored/marked though related species greatly diminish the likelihood of negative interactions. 

    See below re "foods/feeding" regarding the propensity of this fish to eat mobile tankmates. Animals of smaller than mouth diameter (including cleaner organisms) are often ingested as food.

Reproduction:

    Not known in captivity.

Digging Behavior:

    This species can be a prodigious excavator, moving sand, good-sized rubble about with its mouth. The usual cautions here to be careful about rock and other heavy decor placement. Best "wiggled" into place, touching the "bottom" of the tank, filter or plenum plates, and/or rock below. 

Foods/Feeding/Nutrition:

    Though this Hind feeds principally on fishes and to a lesser extent crustaceans in the wild, it is an exemplary omnivore in captivity, readily feeding on any/all foods of size, bulk that will fit its mouth. Any small-enough fishes and crustacean livestock are potential game. 

    As with most predaceous captives, it is best not to over or to frequently feed your Hind. Twice, thrice weekly is sufficient. 

Disease: Prevention, Control:

    Should your system succumb to an infectious or parasitic disease, your Cephalopholis will be amongst the last to show signs or perish from same. This fish can catch the usual reef scourges (ich, velvet), but is very rarely a carrier. Like most basses they're easily treated for such problems with common medications and environmental manipulation (e.g. hyposalinity). 

Conclusion:

    What more could a pet-fish hobbyist want in the way of a larger "show" specimen for their larger marine system? The Coral Hind, aka Miniata Grouper, is strikingly beautiful, readily available, intelligent, hardy, adaptable to captive conditions. An ideal fish addition if you have larger than mouth-size fish and crustacean tankmates. 

Bibliography/Further Reading:

Axelrod, Herbert R. & Warren E. Burgess, 1981. Groupers and their relatives. TFH 8/81.

Burgess, Warren E., Herbert R. Axelrod and Raymond E. Hunziker III, Atlas of Aquarium Fishes, v. 1 Marines. 1990. T.F.H. Publications.

Campbell, Douglas G. 1979. Marines: their care and keeping, Groupers and their allies. Parts 1-3. 9-11/79 FAMA.

Fenner, Bob. 1995. A diversity of aquatic life. The Family Serranidae. FAMA 9/95.

Fenner, Robert. 1996. Basses, groupers or hinds? The genus Cephalopholis. TFH 12/96.

Fenner, Robert. 1998. The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. Microcosm, VT. 432pp.

Goldstein, Robert. 1992. Spectacular serranids. AFM 11/92

Hunziker, Ray. 1988. Orange lightning- experiences with Cephalopholis miniatus. TFH 3/88.

Jonklaas, Rodney, 1975. Search for the super-duper grouper. TFH 8/75.

Michael, Scott W. 1998. Gorgeous groupers. One genus really does stand out. AFM 1/98.

Nelson, Joseph S. Fishes of the World. Wiley. 3rd Ed. 1994.

With the permission of Robert (Bob) Fenner webmaster of WetWebMedia (robertfenner@hotmail.com)

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