Goliath Grouper

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Epinephelus itara - (Lichtenstein, 1822)
Goliath Grouper

Capable of growing to mammoth sizes. Don DeMaria/FSU Coleman & Koenig Laboratory

[edit] Overview

With a monstrous head, huge maw, small eyes, and a body mass that can reach 1,003 pounds (455 kg) and over 8 feet in length (250 cm), the Goliath Grouper is one of the largest species in its family.

Although it is erroneously reputed to be a menace to humans, the Goliath Grouper has small teeth and feeds on bottom-dwelling crustaceans and slow-moving fishes by inhaling them using the suction method. Gamefisherman often speak of it as a undesirable species that poses a great threat to populations of other more desirable fishes and lobsters, but scientific studies have found otherwise. (See Feeding, below.)

With highly delectable flesh, the species was grossly overfished in the 1980s, even as the mangrove swamps that serve as the home to immature specimens were being torn out and filled in many places.

Today the Goliath Grouper is classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, and has been protected from fishing or collection since 1990 in the United States and since 1993 in the Caribbean.

Family: Serranidae

Other common name(s):

  • Jewfish

Native range:

Habitat: Generally found in shallow, inshore waters over coral, rock, or mud.

Maximum length: 200 cm (79 in)

Water: Marine 23 °C (296 K, 73 °F) - 28 °C (301 K, 82 °F)

[edit] Feeding

Carnivore. Feeds heavily on crabs, shrimps, and bottom-dwelling toadfish in the wild. Contrary to the fears of fishermen, this species is not a significant predatory threat to snappers, other groupers, or lobsters. (Koenig & Coleman, see below.) In an early study of the species around 1960 in the Virgin Islands by John E. Randall, Ph.D., Spiny Lobsters formed a major portion of this species' diet, but these lobsters were much more abundant at that time.

[edit] Aquarium Compatibility

Not legal to catch, buy, sell, or ship.

[edit] Breeding/Propagation

Spawns in large aggregations, at which times the fish are extremely vulnerable to illegal fishing. Young Goliath Groupers seek refuge among mangrove roots for the first 5 to 6 years of their lives, at which age they reach sexual maturity.

[edit] Notes

An excellent article on Epinephelus itara can be found on the Florida State University web site. [1]

Text credit: JML
Facts about Goliath GrouperRDF feed
Common name Goliath Grouper  +, and Jewfish  +
Family Serranidae  +
Genus Epinephelus  +
Maximum length 79 in  +
Native range Caribbean  +, South Florida  +, Brazil  +, Gulf of Mexico  +, Tropical Western Atlantic  +, Western Pacific  +, Gulf of California  +, Tropical Eastern Atlantic  +, Senegal  +, and Congo  +
Specific name itara  +
Text credit JML  +
Water max temp 301 K (28 °C, 82 °F)  +
Water min temp 296 K (23 °C, 73 °F)  +
Water type Marine  +