Black Saddle Grouper

David Lawrence
• Tuesday, 22 December, 2020
• 9 min read

Juvenile of Plectropomus Levis Plectropomus Levis, known commonly as the black-saddled coral grouper, clue spotted coral trout, black saddled coral trout, blue-spot trout, Chinese footballer, footballer cod, footballer coral trout, oceanic coral trout or tiger trout, is a species of marine ray-finned fish, a grouper from the subfamilyEpinephelinae which is part of the familySerranidae, which also includes the antics and sea basses. The properly is mostly rounded, with three large, downward pointing spines along the bottom half.

grouper coral saddled species fish saltwater med prev
(Source: www.marinefishez.com)


The dorsal fin contains 7-8 spines and 10-12 soft rays while the anal fin contains 3 spines and 8 soft rays. This species has two color phases, one with black saddles on a whitish background color with a yellow caudal peduncle and yellow fins is known as the “footballer phase”; the other being a grayish form which has a dark head, five dark saddle markings along the back and small blue spots on body.

The juveniles are Bayesian mimics of the toxic Valentin's sharp nose puffer (Canthigaster Valentine). This species attains a total length of 125 centimeters (49 in), although they are commonly around 84 centimeters (33 in), and a maximum published weight of 24.2 kilograms (53 lb).

Plectropomus Levis is found in lagoon areas which have good coral cover and the seaward side of reefs where it appears to prefer reef channels and the outer shelf of the reef. The juveniles of both color phases with total length's of less than 20 centimeters (7.9 in) mimic Valentin's sharp nose puffer and usually scull with their pectoral fins for swimming while they hold the caudal fin folded and the first few spines of the spiny part of the dorsal fin held erect.

This species forages over larger areas and a wider depth range than the symmetric Plectropomus leopards. They are monastic protogynous hermaphrodites, in which the males only develop from mature females, the youngest males found have been 9 years of age and females mature at 2.2 years and at around 40 centimeters (16 in) in fork length.

This species is comparatively fast growing and may attain a length of 50 centimeters (20 in) in less than four years and females may be sexually mature in less than three years. They form small spawning aggregations although large aggregations have been recorded from the northern Great Barrier Reef.

plectropomus laevis grouper saddle oceans foundation living
(Source: www.livingoceansfoundation.org)

It is likely that this species spawns in deeper waters on reef fronts compared to P. leopards and this may be the reason for the lack of spawning observations for P. Levis. The adults feed on a variety of larger reef fishes, including other groupers, while the juveniles feed on smaller fish and invertebrates such as crustaceans and squid.

Plectropomus Levis is a prized food fish but their diet dominated by fish means that the consumption of its flesh has been responsible for many instances of ciguatera poisoning. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

An annotated and illustrated catalog of the grouper, rock cod, hind, coral grouper and lyre tail species known to date (PDF). “Diplectanids (Monotone) parasitic on the gills of the coral groupers Plectropomus Levis and P. leopards (Performed, Serranidae) off New Caledonia, with the description of five new species and the erection of Echinoplectanum n. g.”.

^ Scholar, W. N.; R. Cricket & R. van der Loan (eds.). “ Cricket, R. (1999) Fishes of the Mascara Islands (Réunion, Mauritius, Rodriguez): an annotated checklist, with descriptions of new species., Knelt Scientific Books, Genistein, Theses Zoological, Vol.

31:759 p. Frisco, Ashley J.; Cameron, Darren S.; Pratchett, Morgan S.; Williamson, David H.; Williams, Ashley J.; Reynolds, Adam D.; Hey, Andrew S.; Gizzard, Justin R.; Evans, Louisa; Mórrígan, Brigid; Mildew, Geoffrey; Welch, David J.; Hobbs, Jean-Paul A. “Key aspects of the biology, fisheries and management of Coral grouper “.

grouper bunaken island file commons wikimedia wikipedia pixels description
(Source: commons.wikimedia.org)

Heemskerk (1991) Revision of Indo-Pacific groupers (Performed: Serranidae: Epinephrine), with descriptions of five new species., Indo-Pacific Fishes (20):332 p Wiki species has information related to Plectropomus Levis Wikimedia Commons has media related to Plectropomus Levis.

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Plectropomus Levis. It is found off the coastline of southeastern Australia and northern New Zealand, generally inhabiting near-shore rock and coral reefs at depths down to 50 meters.

Its main range comprises the southeast coastline of Australia, in the state of New South Wales ; New Zealand populations are suspected to be nonbreeding, so are a result of drifting larvae. The species is a protogynous hermaphrodite, with individuals starting as females and changing to males at an estimated 100–110 cm in length and 29–30 years of age.

Drastic but localized declines in saddle tail grouper stocks due to line fishing were first noted around heavily populated areas in the early 1900s. However, in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, E. Amelia populations suffered a severe decline due to the rise in popularity of spear fishing.

Due to the species' large size, slowness, curiosity, territorial habits, and use of inshore habitats, it was extremely vulnerable to spear fishing. The species was heavily targeted by spear fishermen and caught in large quantities.

grouper coral saddle
(Source: www.youtube.com)

After more than two decades of severe spear fishing-driven decline, the New South Wales fishery department belatedly banned the spearing or taking of black cod in 1983, and subsequently listed the species as vulnerable under New South Wales fisheries legislation. Remarks on Fishes, with Descriptions of new Species in the British Museum, chiefly from Southern Seas.

Care Level (INT):Intermediate *All Fish, Inverts and Coral ship next day UPS from Atlanta, Ga.×Your order may not look like photo shown due to variety and size within a species.

They are fairly rare fish on the Tanzanian coast and are shy and usually difficult to approach. Its coloration is a white background with five large black saddles and one small one on the rear of the caudal area.

There is a second color phase with a dark gray body with similar bars on it which is quite rare. As with all grouper they have a proportionally large mouth designed for swallowing their prey whole.

Black Saddled Coral Grouper are found on the East coast of Africa from Durban in the south to the Red Sea, eastwards to northern Australia and up to southern Japan. They are typically found on exposed reefs rather than in protected areas or estuaries.

grouper coral saddled facts plectropomus laevis seaunseen photographs fish rare known he
(Source: seaunseen.com)

Their main diet is small fishes and crustaceans, however given they are regularly caught by fishermen on the hook this indicates that they will scavenge as well. They are ambush predators and usually feed in the early morning and late afternoon when their coloration gives them more camouflage.

Juveniles found over rubble areas in shallow reefs, colorful like a bright football, mimicking the poisonous Saddled Puffer fish. Groupers are solitary carnivores that hunt near the bottom usually at dusk.

Spawning is seasonal and controlled by the moons phase. Juvenile fish become adults and some change shape or their color.

These large fish are associated with hard structure such as reefs (both natural and artificial), rocks, and ledges. It was easy for commercial and recreational fisherman to catch Nassau grouper and it soon became scarce.

Because their range exceeds national borders, the best approach to their conservation is regional closed seasons. Sampling of fish landed in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico during the 1970s and 1980s indicates that Nassau grouper were commonly caught, mostly from spawning aggregation sites.

grouper saddle plectropomus laevis shutterstock
(Source: shutterstock.com)

Currently, Nassau grouper are occasionally reported during underwater reef surveys at low density. Coloration varies, but adult fish are generally light beige, with five dark brown vertical bars, a large black saddle blotch on top of the base of the tail, and a row of black spots below and behind each eye.

They can be distinguished from other groupers by the vertical bars and dark saddle coloring along the dorsal part of the area preceding the tail. Color pattern can change within minutes from almost white too bicolored to uniformly dark brown, according to the behavioral state of the fish.

They take advantage of lower light levels at dawn and dusk, combined with the higher number of prey during changeover between diurnal and nocturnal fishes. Nassau grouper are found in tropical and subtropical waters of the western North Atlantic.

This includes Bermuda, Florida, Bahamas, the Yucatán Peninsula, and throughout the Caribbean to southern Brazil. There has been one verified report of Nassau grouper in the Gulf of Mexico at Flower Gardens Bank.

The Nassau grouper is considered a reef fish, but it transitions as it grows through a series of shifts in both habitat and diet. As juveniles, they are found in nearshore shallow waters in macro algal and seagrass habitats.

grouper coral saddled saddle fish aquarium saltwater line pete
(Source: www.petesaquariums.com)

The main influences on where they live are not known, though water clarity, habitat, and bent hos (the community of organisms in the seabed) seem to be important. Nassau grouper tend to spend a lot of time in one spot, often on a high-relief coral reefs or rocks in clear water.

World map providing approximate representation of the Nassau grouper's range. Nassau grouper pass through a juvenile bisexual phase, then mature directly as males or females.

While adult Nassau groupers can change sex after hormone injection, natural sex-change has not been confirmed. Sites have been found near the edges of reefs, as little as 50 yards from the shore, near drop-offs into deeper water across a wide range of depths (20 to 200 feet) and environments (including soft corals, sponges, stony coral outcrops, and sandy depressions).

Some more information on how Nassau grouper get to their spawning sites, based on limited observations: After 1 to 2 months of floating with the ocean currents, the larvae settle in nearshore shallow waters in macro algal and seagrass habitats.

Adults are relatively solitary, living in areas that (patchily) overlap other groupers’ home ranges. In some countries with protective regulations, there are too few enforcement officers to cover a large geographic area with many landing locations.

grouper saddle
(Source: www.flickr.com)

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1 www.coastalreview.org - https://www.coastalreview.org/2020/11/whats-on-the-line-north-carolina-grouper/
2 islandfreepress.org - https://islandfreepress.org/fishing-report/whats-on-the-line-grouper-in-north-carolina/
3 www.pointclickfish.com - https://www.pointclickfish.com/fishing/saltwater-fishing/offshore/big-carolina-gag-grouper/