Graysby (Cephalopholis cruentata)

Graysby (Cephalopholis cruentata)

A member of the grouper/seabass family, the graysby is a small, secretive reef fish. Graysby are commonly caught on hook and line, but their small size precludes them from being particularly sought after.


Varying from pale gray to dark brown, the graysby has many darker orangish, red-brown spots on its body, fins, and chin. There are three to five distinctive marks, like pale or dark spots, that run along the base of the dorsal fin. A white line runs between the eyes from the nape to the lower lip.

The spots change color, either growing pale or darkening in contrast with the body. The tail of the graysby is more rounded than it is in similar species. There are 9 spines and 14 rays in the soft dorsal fin, compared to 15 to 17 rays in the closely related coney.


The graysby generally grows to a length of 6 to 10 inches and can reach a maximum of 1 foot.


Graysby are nocturnal predators, feeding mainly on fish.

Other Names

Spanish: enjambre, cherna enjambre, cuna cabrilla.


Graysby range from North Carolina to the northern Gulf of Mexico and south to Brazil. They are common in southern Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean and are also found in Bermuda.


Small ledges and caves in coral beds and reefs are the preferred haunts of graysby, where they blend with the surroundings at depths between 10 and 60 feet.