December 9, 2011, 7:41 am
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Coney. Photo by Florent Charpin. reefguide.org

The coney (scientific name: Cephalopholis fulva) is a member of the grouper/seabass family (Family Serranidae) that lives on coral reefs in the Western Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Also known by the common name deady, this species is a generalist carnivore, that is often found resting in the benthic portion of the epipelagic ocean depth zone, that portion of the sea that is penetrated by sunlight.


caption Coney. Source: Florent Charpin/www.reefguide.org



caption Coney in bicolor morp. Source: Florent Charpin/www.reefguide.org


Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
Phylum:--- Chordata
Class:------ Osteichthyes (Bony Fishes)
Order:-------- Perciformes
Family:-------- Serranidae (Groupers/seabasses)
Species:----------Cephalopholis fulva (Linnaeus, 1758)

Physical Description

Coneys range in length from 15 to 41 centimeters. They exhibit relatively thick bodies and large lips. Adult coneys present in a variety of color phases. Most commonly, they are reddish/brown or brown in color, with numerous small bluish dots covering their bodies. The bicolor variation is dark on the upper portion of the body, and lighter on the lower portion of the body. The golden variation is the least common color morph; such speciments manifest a bright yellow coloration. Coneys are best identified in the field by the two black dots on their lower lip and two black dots behind their dorsal fin.


The species is found in the Western Atlantic from North Carolina to southern Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.


Coneys live on coral reefs and often rest on the benthic stratum, or drift just above the bottom, near the protection of the reef to depths of 150 meters.

Feeding Behavior

They are generalist carnivores that feed on small fishes and crustaceans including shrimps, crabs and mantis shrimps. They hunt for prey along the bottom of the reef and they often hunt in pairs. 


Coneys usually hide in caves or under ledges during the day.  Occasionally, they assume a blotched resting coloration.


Coneys are protogynous hermaphrodites (females change sex to males) that spawn in pairs within small groups containing one male and many females.  Spawning typically occurs just before sunset.  Both eggs and sperm are deposited in the water column where they eggs are fertilized.  After the eggs hatch, the larvae enter the pelagic stage where they remain until they settle on the reef where they may live from four to five years.


Coneys sometimes use an interesting feeding strategy known as “nuclear hunting”. They form hunting association with moray eels or octopuses. While the eels or octopuses enter into the reef looking for prey, the coneys swim above the reef waiting to catch any prey attempting the escape the eels/octopuses.

Conservation Status

The coney is not considered to be a species at risk.

References and Further Reading



McGinley, M. (2011). Coney. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/151419


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