Grouper Fishing Information
Groupers are fish of any of a number of genera in the subfamily Epinephelinae of the family Serranidae, in the order Perciformes.
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 classifed in the small genera Anyperidon, Cromileptes, Dermatolepis, Gracila, Saloptia and Triso are also called groupers. Fish classified in the genus Plectropomus are referred to as coral groupers. 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 "groupers" on its own is usually taken as meaning the subfamily Epinephelinae.
The word "grouper" comes from Portuguese "garoupa", and not from the English word group.
Interestingly, in New Zealand and Australia, the name for several species of Grouper is referred to as Groper, as in the Epinephelus lanceolatus Queensland Groper.
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 metre and weights up to 100Kg are not uncommon, though obviously in such a large group species vary considerably. They swallow prey rather than biting pieces off it. They do not have much tooth on the edges of their jaws, but they have heavy crushing tooth plates inside the pharynx. They habitually eat fish, octopus, crab and lobster. They lie in wait, rather than chasing in open water.
Their mouth and gills form a powerful sucking system that literally hoovers their pray in from distance. They also use their mouth to dig into sand in order to form their shelters under big rocks, jetting it out through their gills. Their gill muscles are so poweful, that it is impossible to pull them out of their cave if they feel attacked and extend them in order to lock themselves in.
Most fish spawn between May and August. They are protogynous hermaphrodite, i.e. the young are predominantly female but transform into males as they grow larger. They grow about a kilo per year. Generally they are adolescent until they reach three kilos, when they turn into female. At about 10 to 12 kilos they turn to male. The males generally have a harem of three to fifteen females in the broader region. If no male exists closeby, the largest female turns faster, although this is a rare case. Most males look much wilder and bigger than females, even if they happen to be smaller (compare bull to cow, or rooster to chicken, or lion to lioness).
Many groupers are important food fish, and some of them are now farmed. Any 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.