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Epinephelus malabaricus.jpg
Malabar grouper, Epinephelus malabaricus
Scientific classification

Groupers are fish of any of a number of genera in the subfamily Epinephelinae of the family Serranidae, in the order Perciformes.

Fish vertebrate animal that lives in water and (typically) has gills

Fish are gill-bearing aquatic craniate animals that lack limbs with digits. They form a sister group to the tunicates, together forming the olfactores. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish as well as various extinct related groups. Tetrapods emerged within lobe-finned fishes, so cladistically they are fish as well. However, traditionally fish are rendered paraphyletic by excluding the tetrapods. Because in this manner the term "fish" is defined negatively as a paraphyletic group, it is not considered a formal taxonomic grouping in systematic biology, unless it is used in the cladistic sense, including tetrapods. The traditional term pisces is considered a typological, but not a phylogenetic classification.

A genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.

Family is one of the eight major hierarchical taxonomic ranks in Linnaean taxonomy; it is classified between order and genus. A family may be divided into subfamilies, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are Latin in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example, walnut trees and hickory trees belong to the family Juglandaceae, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family".


Not all serranids are called groupers; the family also includes the sea basses . The common name grouper is usually given to fish in one of two large genera: Epinephelus and Mycteroperca . In addition, the species classified in the small genera Anyperidon, Cromileptes, Dermatolepis, Gracila, Saloptia, and Triso are also called groupers. Fish in the genus Plectropomus are referred to as coralgroupers. These genera are all classified in the subfamily Epiphelinae. However, some of the hamlets (genus Alphestes), the hinds (genus Cephalopholis), the lyretails (genus Variola) and some other small genera (Gonioplectrus, Niphon, Paranthias) are also in this subfamily, and occasional species in other serranid genera have common names involving the word "grouper". Nonetheless, the word "grouper" on its own is usually taken as meaning the subfamily Epinephelinae.

Bass is a name shared by many species of fish. The term encompasses both freshwater and marine species, all belonging to the large order Perciformes, or perch-like fishes. The word bass comes from Middle English bars, meaning "perch".

<i>Epinephelus</i> genus of fishes

Epinephelus is a genus of fishes in the family Serranidae found in Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans.

<i>Mycteroperca</i> genus of fishes

Mycteroperca is a genus of fish in the family Serranidae, subfamily Epinephelinae (groupers).


Anatomy of a grouper Only today I got to know this Fish better! What about you%3F (3852325083).jpg
Anatomy of a grouper

Groupers are teleosts, typically having a stout body and a large mouth. They are not built for long-distance, fast swimming. They can be quite large, and lengths over a meter and weights up to 100 kg are not uncommon,[ citation needed ] though obviously in such a large group, species vary considerably. They swallow prey rather than biting pieces off it. They do not have many teeth on the edges of their jaws, but they have heavy crushing tooth plates inside the pharynx. They habitually eat fish, octopuses, and crustaceans. Some species prefer to ambush their prey, while other species are active predators. Reports of fatal attacks on humans by the largest species, the giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) are unconfirmed. [1]

Pharynx part of the throat that is behind the mouth and nasal cavity

The pharynx is the part of the throat behind the mouth and nasal cavity and above the esophagus and larynx, or the tubes going down to the stomach and the lungs. It is found in vertebrates and invertebrates, though its structure varies across species.

Octopus order of molluscs

The octopus is a soft-bodied, eight-limbed mollusc of the order Octopoda. Around 300 species are recognised, and the order is grouped within the class Cephalopoda with squids, cuttlefish, and nautiloids. Like other cephalopods, the octopus is bilaterally symmetric with two eyes and a beak, with its mouth at the center point of the eight limbs. The soft body can rapidly alter its shape, enabling octopuses to squeeze through small gaps. They trail their eight appendages behind them as they swim. The siphon is used both for respiration and for locomotion, by expelling a jet of water. Octopuses have a complex nervous system and excellent sight, and are among the most intelligent and behaviourally diverse of all invertebrates.

Their mouths and gills form a powerful sucking system that sucks their prey in from a distance. They also use their mouths to dig into sand to form their shelters under big rocks, jetting it out through their gills.

Gill respiratory organ

A gill is a respiratory organ found in many aquatic organisms that extracts dissolved oxygen from water and excretes carbon dioxide. The gills of some species, such as hermit crabs, have adapted to allow respiration on land provided they are kept moist. The microscopic structure of a gill presents a large surface area to the external environment. Branchia is the zoologists' name for gills.

Research indicates roving coralgroupers (Plectropomus pessuliferus) sometimes cooperate with giant morays in hunting. [2]

Giant moray species of moray eel (the largest)

The giant moray is a species of moray eel and a species of marine fish in the family Muraenidae. In terms of body mass, it is the largest moray eel.



The word "grouper" is from the Portuguese name, garoupa, which has been speculated to come from an indigenous South American language. [3] [4]

Portuguese language Romance language that originated in Portugal

Portuguese is a Western Romance language originating in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also has co-official language status in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea and Macau in China. As the result of expansion during colonial times, a cultural presence of Portuguese and Portuguese creole speakers are also found in Goa, Daman and Diu in India; in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka; in the Indonesian island of Flores; in the Malacca state of Malaysia; and the ABC islands in the Caribbean where Papiamento is spoken, while Cape Verdean Creole is the most widely spoken Portuguese-based Creole. Reintegrationists maintain that Galician is not a separate language, but a dialect of Portuguese. A Portuguese-speaking person or nation is referred to as "Lusophone" (Lusófono).

In Australia, "groper" is used instead of "grouper" for several species, such as the Queensland grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus). In the Philippines, it is named lapu-lapu in Luzon, while in the Visayas and Mindanao it goes by the name pugapo. [ citation needed ] In New Zealand, "groper" refers to a type of wreckfish, Polyprion oxygeneios, which goes by the Māori name hāpuku . [5] In the Middle East, the fish is known as hammour, and is widely eaten, especially in the Persian Gulf region. [6] [7]


ImageGenusCommon NameNumber of Living Species
Alphestes immaculatus SI.jpg Alphestes 3
Anyperodon leucogrammicus.jpg Anyperodon slender grouper1
Aethaloperca rogaa Maldives.JPG Aethaloperca Redmouth grouper1
Blue-spotted.grouper.arp.jpg Cephalopholis Maples 25
Cromileptes altivelis skansen 2006.jpg Cromileptes Humpback grouper1
Sanc0498 - Flickr - NOAA Photo Library.jpg Dermatolepis 2
Epinephelus malabaricus in UShaka Sea World 1098.jpg Epinephelus 89
Gonioplectrus Spanish flag1
Serranidae - Gracila albomarginata.JPG Gracila Masked Grouper1
Snowy grouper (Epinephelus niveatus).jpg Hyporthodus 14
Sanc0487 - Flickr - NOAA Photo Library.jpg Mycteroperca 15
Paranthias colonus Ecuador.jpg Paranthias 2
Plectropomus laevis.jpg Plectropomus 7
Saloptia 1
Triso 1
Variola louti by Jacek Madejski.jpg Variola 2


Groupers are mostly monandric protogynous hermaphrodites, i.e. they mature only as females and have the ability to change sex after sexual maturity. [8] [9] Some species of groupers grow about a kilogram per year and are generally adolescent until they reach three kilograms, when they become female. The largest males often control harems containing three to 15 females. [8] [10] Groupers often pair spawn, which enables large males to competitively exclude smaller males from reproducing. [8] [11] [12] [13] As such, if a small female grouper were to change sex before it could control a harem as a male, its fitness would decrease. [11] [12] [13] If no male is available, the largest female that can increase fitness by changing sex will do so. [12]

However, some groupers are gonochoristic. [8] Gonochorism, or a reproductive strategy with two distinct sexes, has evolved independently in groupers at least five times. [8] The evolution of gonochorism is linked to group spawning high amounts of habitat cover. [8] [12] [14] Both group spawning and habitat cover increase the likelihood of a smaller male to reproduce in the presence of large males. Fitness of male groupers in environments where competitive exclusion of smaller males is not possible is correlated with sperm production and thus testicle size. [10] [12] [15] Gonochoristic groupers have larger testes than protogynous groupers (10% of body mass compared to 1% of body mass), indicating the evolution of gonochorism increased male grouper fitness in environments where large males were unable to competitively exclude small males from reproducing. [10]


A monogenean parasitic on the gill of a grouper Pseudorhabdosynochus morrhua.jpg
A monogenean parasitic on the gill of a grouper

As other fish, groupers harbour parasites, including digeneans, [16] nematodes, cestodes, monogeneans, isopods, and copepods. A study conducted in New Caledonia has shown that coral reef-associated groupers have about 10 species of parasites per fish species. [17] Species of Pseudorhabdosynochus , monogeneans of the family Diplectanidae are typical of and especially numerous on groupers.

Modern use

Gulai kerapu, a grouper-based Padang food Gulai kerapu.JPG
Gulai kerapu, a grouper-based Padang food

Many groupers are important food fish, and some of them are now farmed. Unlike most other fish species which are chilled or frozen, groupers are usually sold live in markets. [18] Many species are popular fish for sea-angling. Some species are small enough to be kept in aquaria, though even the small species are inclined to grow rapidly. [ citation needed ]

Groupers are commonly reported as a source of Ciguatera fish poisoning. DNA barcoding of grouper species might help in controlling Ciguatera fish poisoning since fish are easily identified, even from meal remnants, with molecular tools. [19]


Malaysian newspaper The Star reported a 180-kg (397-lb) grouper being caught off the waters near Pulau Sembilan in the Straits of Malacca in January 2008. [20] Shenzhen News in China reported that a 1.8-m grouper swallowed a 1.0-m whitetip reef shark at the Fuzhou Sea World aquarium. [21]

In September 2010, a Costa Rican newspaper reported a 2.3-m (7.5-ft) grouper in Cieneguita, Limón. The weight of the fish was 250 kg (550 lb) and it was lured using one kilogram of bait. [22] In November 2013, a 310-kg (686-lb) grouper had been caught and sold to a hotel in Dongyuan, China. [23]

In August 2014 off Bonita Springs in Florida (USA) a big grouper took in one gulp a 4-foot shark which an angler had caught. [24] [25]

Cultural references

See also

Related Research Articles

Serranidae family of fishes

The Serranidae are a large family of fishes belonging to the order Perciformes. The family contains about 450 species in 65 genera, including the sea basses and the groupers. Although many species are small, in some cases less than 10 cm (3.9 in), the giant grouper is one of the largest bony fishes in the world, growing to 2.7 m in length and 400 kg (880 lb) in weight. Representatives of this group live in tropical and subtropical seas worldwide.

Atlantic goliath grouper species of fish

The Atlantic goliath grouper or itajara, also known as the jewfish, is a large saltwater fish of the grouper family found primarily in shallow tropical waters among coral and artificial reefs at depths from 5 to 50 m. Its range includes the Florida Keys in the US, the Bahamas, most of the Caribbean and most of the Brazilian coast. On some occasions, it is caught off the coasts of the US states of New England off Maine and Massachusetts. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, it occurs from the Congo to Senegal.

Graysby species of fish

The graysby is a grouper in the Serranidae family from the Western Atlantic. It is found from North Carolina to southern Florida (USA), Bermuda, the Gulf of Mexico, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. Its typical size is 15 to 25 cm in length, with a maximum size of 42 cm (16.5 in).

Brown spotted reef cod Species of fish

The brown spotted reef cod, known as Souman or Hamour-e Khaldar-e Qahvei in Persian and commonly as brownspotted grouper in English, is a fish belonging to the family Serranidae. In Goa The fish is known as Gobro

Comet grouper species of fish

The comet grouper is a species of deepwater fish in the family Serranidae. It is found in the Indo-Pacific region. Other common names include comet cod, banded-cheek reef-cod, contour rockcod, and blue groper.

Blacktip grouper species of fish

The blacktip grouper or redbanded grouper, Epinephelus fasciatus, is a species of marine fish in the family Serranidae.

The tiger grouper is a benthic marine fish which belongs to the family Serranidae or also known as the groupers.

<i>Epinephelus marginatus</i> species of fish

Epinephelus marginatus, the dusky grouper, the yellowbelly rock cod or yellowbelly grouper, is the best known grouper of the Mediterranean Sea and North Africa coast.

Coral trout species of fish

The coral trout, leopard coral grouper, or leopard coral trout is a species of fish in the Serranidae family. Native to the western Pacific Ocean, its natural habitat includes open seas and coral reefs. Coral trout are piscivorous; juveniles mostly eat crustaceans, especially prawns, and adults feed upon a variety of reef fish, particularly damselfish.

<i>Plectropomus laevis</i> species of fish

Plectropomus laevis, known commonly as the black-saddled coral grouper or saddle grouper, is a species of groupers belonging to the family Serranidae.

Coral reef fish fish which live amongst or in close relation to coral reefs

Coral reef fish are fish which live amongst or in close relation to coral reefs. Coral reefs form complex ecosystems with tremendous biodiversity. Among the myriad inhabitants, the fish stand out as colourful and interesting to watch. Hundreds of species can exist in a small area of a healthy reef, many of them hidden or well camouflaged. Reef fish have developed many ingenious specialisations adapted to survival on the reefs.

Honeycomb grouper species of fish

The honeycomb grouper or dwarf spotted rockcod, also known by other vernacular names, is a species of marine fish in the family Serranidae.

<i>Epinephelus ongus</i> species of fish

Epinephelus ongus, commonly called white-streaked grouper or specklefin grouper among various other vernacular names, is a species of marine fish in the family Serranidae.

<i>Pseudorhabdosynochus contubernalis</i> species of worm

Pseudorhabdosynochus contubernalis is a diplectanid monogenean parasitic on the gills of the Scamp, Mycteroperca phenax. It has been described by Kritsky, Bakenhaster and Adams in 2015.

Pseudorhabdosynochus auitoe is a diplectanid monogenean parasitic on the gills of the Highfin grouper, Epinephelus maculatus. It was described in 2007.

Pseudorhabdosynochus buitoe is a diplectanid monogenean parasitic on the gills of the Highfin grouper, Epinephelus maculatus. It has been described in 2007.

Pseudorhabdosynochus cuitoe is a diplectanid monogenean parasitic on the gills of the Highfin grouper, Epinephelus maculatus. It has been described in 2007.

Pseudorhabdosynochus duitoe is a diplectanid monogenean parasitic on the gills of the Highfin grouper, Epinephelus maculatus. It has been described in 2007.

Pseudorhabdosynochus fuitoe is a diplectanid monogenean parasitic on the gills of the Highfin grouper, Epinephelus maculatus. It has been described in 2007.

<i>Echinoplectanum</i> genus of worms

Echinoplectanum is a genus of monopisthocotylean monogeneans in the family Diplectanidae. All its species are parasites on the gills of fish; hosts recorded to date are all groupers, including coralgroupers and the Dusky grouper. So far, species of Echinoplectanum have been recorded only from fish caught off Australia, New Caledonia and in the Mediterranean Sea.


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  12. 1 2 3 4 5 Munoz, R. C. and R. R. Warner. 2003. A new version of the size-advantage hypothesis for sex change: Incorporating sperm competition and size-fecundity skew. American Naturalist 161:749-761.
  13. 1 2 Kuwamura, T. 2004. Sex change in fishes: Its process and evolutionary mechanism. Zoological Science 21:1248-1248.
  14. Erisman, B. E., J. A. Rosales-Casian and P. A. Hastings. 2008. Evidence of gonochorism in a grouper, Mycteroperca rosacea, from the Gulf of California, Mexico. Environmental Biology of Fishes 82:23-33.
  15. Molloy, P. P., N. B. Goodwin, I. M. Cote, J. D. Reynolds and M. J. G. Gage. 2007. Sperm competition and sex change: A comparative analysis across fishes. Evolution 61:640-652.
  16. Cribb, T. H., Bray, R. A., Wright, T. & Pichelin, S. 2002: The trematodes of groupers (Serranidae: Epinephelinae): knowledge, nature and evolution. Parasitology, 124, S23-S42.
  17. Justine, J.-L., Beveridge, I., Boxshall, G. A., Bray, R. A., Moravec, F., Trilles, J.-P. & Whittington, I. D. 2010: An annotated list of parasites (Isopoda, Copepoda, Monogenea, Digenea, Cestoda and Nematoda) collected in groupers (Serranidae, Epinephelinae) in New Caledonia emphasizes parasite biodiversity in coral reef fish. Folia Parasitologica, 57, 237-262. doi : 10.14411/fp.2010.032 PDF
  18. "Most consumers prefer to purchase live groupers in fish markets" . Retrieved 29 April 2011.
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  22. Diario La Extra 2010, Marvin Carvajal. "Cayó el más mero en el Caribe". Archived from the original on 13 September 2010.
  23. "Photos: Fishermen catch wildly huge 686-pound fish, sell it to hotel".
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  25. Grouper eats 4ft shark in one bite. 19 August 2014 via YouTube.