Distinctive Characters: Dorsal fin with 11 spines and 14-16 rays. Anal fin with 3 spines and 8 rays. Pectoral fin with 18-20 rays. Body depth 2.4-3.4 in standard length. Body robust. Lateral-line scales with branched tubules. Preopercle sub-angular, finely serrate, the corners rounded. Upper edge of operculum convex. Pelvic fins not reaching anus. Caudal fin rounded.
Colour: Small juveniles yellow with irregular broad black bars on body. Small adults with irregular white or yellow spots on the black areas and fins with irregular black spots. Adults dark brown with faint mottling, the fins with numerous small black spots. Large adults dark brown, fins darker.
Habitat and Biology: Demersal, often found in shallow waters but also at depths of 100 m. Commonly seen in caves on coral reefs and around wrecks. Feeds on crustaceans and fish.
Remarks: Epinephelus lanceolatus is one of the two largest species of groupers in the world (the other is E. itajara of the Atlantic and eastern Pacific oceans). It is not often caught in the Maldives.