Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes
(Perch-likes) > Serranidae
(Sea basses: groupers and fairy basslets) > Epinephelinae
Etymology: Epinephelus: Greek, epinephelos = cloudy (Ref. 45335).
Environment / Climate / Range
Marine; reef-associated; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 100 - ? m (Ref. 89707). Tropical; 36°N - 8°N, 98°W - 58°W (Ref. 5222)
Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm 25.0  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 76.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 5222); common length : 40.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 5217); max. published weight: 25.0 kg (Ref. 5217); max. reported age: 17 years (Ref. 3095)
soft rays: 8. Scales cycloid except for a ctenoid patch of variable size in the pectoral region. Greenish gray to light brown on the back grading to white ventrally, with numerous well-spaced dull orange-red to brown spots on the head, body and fins. Five faint diagonal bars formed by darker spots on the sides. No saddle-shaped blotch on caudal peduncle or along base of dorsal fin (Ref. 26938); further characterized by having body depth contained 2.7-3.1 times in standard length; head length 2.3-2.4 times in standard length; evenly serrate preopercle, without salient angle; posterior nostril larger than anterior nostril (Ref. 89707).
Western Atlantic: North Carolina, USA to Paraíba, Brazil (Ref. 57756). The most common species of Epinephelus in the West Indies.
Found in shallow reefs and rocky bottoms. Usually solitary and territorial. Feed mainly on crabs (Calapa and Mithrax) and other crustaceans (alpheid shrimps and scyllarid lobsters), fishes (labrids and haemulids), and octopus. Some undergo sexual inversion at 28 cm TL; most fish larger than 40 cm are males. Important in terms of numbers caught and total weight of landings in the Caribbean. Easily approached by divers (Ref. 9710). Hermaphrodite species. Excellent food fish (Ref. 26938). Readily caught on hook and line and easily speared (Ref. 13442).
Females rest on or close to the bottom, while males patrol around an area that consists of 1 to 5 females and defend this territory from other males. Form aggregation and reproduce almost exclusively within the aggregation period (Ref. 8557).
Heemstra, P.C. and J.E. Randall, 1993. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 16. Groupers of the world (family Serranidae, subfamily Epinephelinae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the grouper, rockcod, hind, coral grouper and lyretail species known to date. Rome: FAO. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(16):382 p. (Ref. 5222)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)
CITES (Ref. 94142)
Threat to humans
Reports of ciguatera poisoning (Ref. 31172)
Fisheries: highly commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: public aquariums
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingMass conversion
Estimates of some properties based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01122 (0.00978 - 0.01287), b=3.04 (3.01 - 3.07), based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 3.9 ±0.6 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.12-0.24; tm=3; tmax=17; Fec=96,000).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): High vulnerability (61 of 100) .