Coney (Cephalopholis fulva): The Complete Guide


Coney, scientifically known as Cephalopholis fulva, is a marine fish belonging to the Serranidae family, which includes anthias and sea basses.

It’s also known as the Butterfish.

This fish lives in the western Atlantic Ocean and is usually found near coral reefs.

People catch this fish for both commercial and recreational purposes, and it can also be kept in aquariums.

Adult coney fish like clear water and coral reefs.

In the Gulf of Mexico, they live in deep reefs, while in Bermuda and the West Indies, they prefer shallow waters but hide during the daytime.

Male coney fish are territorial creatures. They feed on small fish and crustaceans, often following morays or snake eels to find food that’s been scared out of hiding spots.

These fish are not safe for reef tanks.

Coney Interesting Facts

  • Coney fish change gender from female to male as they grow, with the transition occurring around 20 cm (7.9 inches) long.
  • These fish live in the western Atlantic Ocean near coral reefs and can be found at depths of 1 to 40 meters.
  • They eat small fish and crustaceans, often following morays or snake eels to find food.

Coney Habitat

Coney lives in the western Atlantic Ocean, from South Carolina and Bermuda to southern Brazil.

This fish stays in marine environments near reefs and doesn’t migrate.

It’s typically found at depths between 1 to 40 meters but can go as deep as 150 meters.

Coney thrives in subtropical waters, ranging between 36°N to 28°S latitudes, and 98°W to 33°W longitudes.

Water Temperature:Unknown
Water pH:Unknown
Water Hardness:Unknown

Coney Physical Characteristics

Size: 17.3 inches (44.0 centimeters)

Coney fish mature when they reach about 14.7 cm to 25 cm (5.8 inches to 9.8 inches) in length and can grow up to 44 cm (17.3 inches) long.

These fish can live for up to 11 years.

They have nine dorsal spines, 14 to 16 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal spines, and 9 anal soft rays.

The body and fins of these fish are red with many small blue spots that have black edges.

There are two noticeable black spots on the top edge of the tail’s base and a pair of black blotches on the lower jaw tip.

Their body depth is about 2.6 to 2.9 times smaller than their standard length (SL), while the head length is around 2.3 to 2.5 times smaller than SL.

The area between their eyes is flat, and they have a rounded preopercle (bone near gills) with a shallow notch at its angle and finely serrated upper edges. However, the lower edges are fleshy.

Their subopercle (another bone near gills) and interopercle (between preopercle & opercle) are smooth; both posterior and anterior nostrils are small in size as well as equal in dimension; the maxilla (upper jaw bone) has scales reaching to or beyond vertical at the rear edge of eye; caudal fin has convex shape toward back-end with angular corners; their lateral-body scales possess ctenoid shape (having comb-like teeth).

Coney Reproduction

Coney fish exhibit distinctive reproductive behavior. Female coney fish change into males when they grow to about 20 cm (7.9 inches) long.

These fish mate over multiple days, usually just before sunset. A male coney mates with several females in his group every day during this time.

Each female can produce around 150000 to 282000 eggs, which are about 0.95 mm wide and contain one oil droplet each.

Coney Scientific Classification

Scientific Name:Cephalopholis fulva
Also Known As:Coney, Butterfish
Conservation Status:Least Concern

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