grouper, common name for a large carnivorous member of the family Serranidae (sea bass family), abundant in tropical and subtropical seas and highly valued as food fish. There are several genera, notably Epinephelus and Mycteroperca, including some 100 species, most of which are characterized by bright markings that change in color and pattern to match the background. In the West Indies and the Florida Keys are found the yellowfin grouper, noted for its many beautiful color phases; the coney, the smallest (9 in./22.5 cm) grouper, colored a livid reddish gray with blue spots; and the Nassau grouper, the rock hind, and the gag. The largest of the sea bass are the giant grouper, the Atlantic and Pacific goliath groupers, and others in the genus Epinephelus. The Altantic goliath grouper, E. itajara, formerly known as a jewfish, reaches a length of 8 ft (2.4 m) and a weight of 800 lb (360 kg); the Pacific goliath grouper is similar. The giant grouper, E. lanceolatus, found in the Indian and Pacific oceans, reaches 12 ft (3.6 m) in length and 880 lb (360 kg) in weight. The red grouper and the black grouper, common N to the Carolinas, form the bulk of the commercial catch; both species weigh up to 50 lb (22.5 kg). Groupers are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Perciformes, family Serranidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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