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Can Grouper Change Color

author
Paul Gonzalez
• Wednesday, 11 November, 2020
• 13 min read

My dive buddy, although close, didn't see what I was seeing and without a slate to explain my surprise, she wouldn't have known anyway. Well, as I watched this grouper swims a little way ahead settle down into another little niche, it turned completely white with black spots.

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# of Dives: 500 – 999 Location: Silicon Valley, CA / New Bedford, MA / Kira, Maui Many fish change colors for things like mating, fighting/aggressive/territorial warning, hunting, particularly doing cooperative hunting with another species. One becomes the male and turns a lovely blue colour, and he has a harem of chicks.

Almost exactly as you describe it... would have to get my log book out, but location was probably around Invisible or Red Slave? # of Dives: 200 – 499 Location: Raymond, NH In the above pictures he changed back to white after I swam by.

# of Dives: 200 – 499 Location: Makarios, HI I believe I saw my grouper around Tori's Reef. I thought I was nuts but when I saw it turn back to flat, dark black I knew I wasn't going crazy.

Nice pics Cecil, I wish I would have had the good fortune to get the many changes on a vid or something. Photo © Anne DuPontThese large, oblong fish can change both color and gender, and live at the rocky reef bottom of tropical Western Atlantic waters.

There is some debate, but they are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning most start out as females and then become males after a few years of spawning. They grow up to 4 feet long and eat mostly crustaceans and other smaller fish by opening their mouths and inhaling them.

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The flesh is primarily marketed as fresh, however there have been reports of ciguatera poisoning from human consumption of this fish. Ciguatera poisoning is caused by dinoflagellates (micro algae) found on dead corals or macro algae.

By feeding on these corals and macro algae, herbivorous fishes accumulate a toxin generated by these dinoflagellates. If accumulated levels of the toxin are great enough they can cause poisoning in humans whom consume the flesh of these fishes.

Poisoned people report having gastrointestinal problems for up to several days, and a general weakness in their arms and legs. The Nassau Grouper is currently assessed as “Endangered” by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

The IUCN is a global union of states, governmental agencies, and non-governmental organizations in a partnership that assesses the conservation status of species. Occurs in the Gulf of Mexico in limited locations including the Yucatán, Tortuga's, and Key West.

This grouper is common on offshore rocky bottoms and coral reefs throughout the Caribbean region. They occur at a depth range extending to at least 295 feet (90 m), preferring to rest near or close to the bottom.

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Juveniles are found closer to shore in seagrass beds that offer a suitable nursery habitat. At these stations, cleaner wrasses pick parasites and dead tissues from the grouper ’s gills and body.

There are five irregular dark brown vertical bars on each side and a large black saddle on the top of the caudal peduncle. The Nassau groupercanchangecolor pattern from light to dark brown very quickly, depending upon the surrounding environment and mood of the fish.

The smaller individual displays a bi colored pattern, with a dark head and white fins, caudal peduncle, and ventral body. This same bi colored pattern is observed in aggregations of spawning fishes, perhaps indicating a peaceful, non-territorial state.

Size, Age, and Growth Growing to a maximum of 4 feet (1.2 m) and weighing over 50 pounds (22.7 kg), this grouper is one of the largest fish on the reef. Food Habits As a carnivorous predator, the Nassau grouper has a diet that consists mainly of fish, shrimps, crabs, lobsters, and octopuses.

Prey fish include parrot fishes, wrasses, damsel fishes, squirrel fishes, snappers, and grunts. This clever fish patiently waits in hiding, utilizing its ability to camouflage, until it pounces on its prey.

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By opening its mouth and dilating the gill covers to draw water in, groupers generally engulf their prey hole in one quick motion. Reproduction The Nassau grouper forms large spawning aggregations from a few dozen to over 100,000 individuals.

These aggregations form in depth of 65-130 ft (20-40 m) on the outer shelf near the full moon during the winter months. Release of gametes is initiated by the female moving in a rapid forward and upward direction.

It is difficult to distinguish different species of grouper larvae from one another, since what information is known about egg and larval development is general. The eggs hatch into pelagic larvae that drift along with the currents for a month or so, prior to becoming juveniles.

Juveniles settle at lengths of approximately 32 mm, residing in vegetated areas near coral clumps. At 120-150 mm in length, the juvenile Nassau groupers move out from vegetated areas to surrounding patch reefs.

At these stations, bodies and shrimps remove isopods from the bodies, fins, mouths, and gills of these groupers and other fish. The genus name comes from the Greek Epimetheus meaning clouded over while stratus is Latin, referring to the striped color pattern.

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Synonyms include Antics China Bloch and Schneider 1801, Sparks chrysomelas Labeled 1802, and Serra nus gymnopareius Valentines 1828. Photo by Susanna Percheron Red Grouper (Epimetheus Mario) This reddish brown groupercanchangecolor from dark to pale with white blotch to blend in with its surroundings.

Photo by Christy McManus Coney (Cephalopods vulva) The Coney goes through several color phases which can be bi colored or golden as juveniles turning to a reddish color with blue dots on the dorsal fin and body, black dots on lower lip and two black dots behind the dorsal fin. Their lack of concern and coloring makes them a great species for photography.

They have 3-5 spots which can be pale or dark along the dorsal fin and a roundish tail. Photo by David Bryan Red Hind (Epimetheus Gustavus) The red hind has reddish spots on a light background and pale or dark blotches below the dorsal fin.

Photo by Leslie Carpenter Goliath Grouper (Epimetheus Tamara) This giant fish is rarely seen here because of overfishing and their reclusive nature and are now protected. They are often seen in small to large groups or schools in the shade of corals or rock formations.

Photo by Dave Bryan Rotate (Hamilton aurolineatum) The rotate is a silver-white fish with a bold yellow or bronze stripe that runs from the snout through the eyes to the base of the tail. They may have a black spot on the base of the tail and additional yellow strips.

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A Black Grouper at Colombia Shallows in Cozumel Mexico. Watch how he tries to blend in with the school of smaller fish behind him.

Show preshow less Loading... The Peacock Hind is a large, deep bodied fish, covered with small, bright, blue spots edged in black.

Peacock Hinds have small eyes that are mounted near the top of the head, which is typical for editorial fish. They can reach 17” (44 cm) and groupers are known to live from 9 to 37 in the wild, possibly longer in captivity with proper care.

Peacock Hinds were introduced in the 1950s to the Hawaiian Islands as a possible food source, although today, most carry ciguatera poisoning (causes neurological disease) and they are off the menu in this area. The Cephalopods genus, commonly referred to as “Hinds,” contain smaller species of groupers which are more appropriate for home aquariums.

They range in size from around 9” to 22.5,” and at least 8 of these species range from 9 to 11.8.” The Peacock Hind, sometimes referred to as the Blue spotted Grouper, can be confused with the Blue spotted Hind, mainly due to the fact that both have bright blue spots. Upon closer examination, the Peacock Hind has a wide, bright, blue edging on the fins.

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Peacock Hinds will also hide within large schools of Parrot fish which enables them to get very close to their pray without being seen. The second challenge would be filtration, since groupers are big eaters, and produce copious amounts of waste, requiring a good quality oversized skimmer and two canister filters like Exam or Fluvial, cleaned twice as often as the directions suggest keeping them working effectively.

A slender fish and even eels that are the same length as your Peacock Hind will be consumed. As the Peacock Grouper ingests a long and narrow tank mate, the prey fish/eel coils up in its belly.

Even the Gray Moray Eel, which the Peacock Hind hunts with in the wild can become dinner if they are not careful! At times, they will try to eat a fish they can ’t quite get down their throat, and the aquarium will have to lend a hand to extract the unfortunate tank mate.

Other tank mates are safest if they are deep bodied and of similar size or larger. If attempting to keep with cleaner shrimp from the Lyman or Steno pus genus, add them first.

Peacock Hinds need to be the last fish added to an aggressive community tank. They prefer to hide under ledges and in caves, but will sit at the bottom of the tank near their hideout as they become more comfortable.

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Juveniles are most often found in shallow waters hiding deep within dense coral thickets. Other creatures they have been known to consume, according to the region are Dusky Tangs (Acanthus nigrofuscus), Convict Tangs (A. Triostegus), Purple Tangs (Nebraska Tantrum), Sail fin Tangs (Z. Desjardinii), Orange Bristle tooth Tangs (Ctenochaetus stratus), Iridescent Cardinal Fish (Aragon kallopterus), Orange Lined Trigger fish (Baristas undulates), Red Speckled Pennies (Cirripectes various), Arc Eye Hawkish (Paracirrhites arcades), Six-line Wrasses (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia), Pterocaesio Tile fish, Hawaiian Squirrel fish (Sargocentron xantherythrus), Belted Wrasses (Stethojulis Alberta), Lyre tail Antics (Pseudanthias squamipinnis), Plunger’s Wrasse (Thalassemia klunzingeri), Sweepers, Blue Green Chromes (Chromes irides), Pseudogrammas, Mackerels, Gobi es, Gray Morays (Sidereal rise), Dam selfish, crabs, decayed shrimp, mantis shrimp, and spiny lobsters.

Those long prey fish/eels will coil up in the stomach of the Peacock Hind until digested. As adults, Peacock Hinds are found alone, or in harems that consist of one male with as many as six females.

The loser, typically the weaker fish, will then swim off, leaving the harem of females for the victor. The Blue spotted Hind is not a solid color near the front half of the fish, but has mottling and irregular pale bars.

Some websites suggest the tank needs to be 250 gallons, and this is not out of the question, especially if you are considering more than one grouper, since these large fish produce a lot of waste and higher water volume will help keep up the water quality. The tank should have a heavy duty skimmer due to the large amount of waste this fish produces.

Feeding groupers fresh water fish will cause health issues if continued for too long. Do not house them with other Peacock Hinds, although they will be fine with other groupers as long as the tank is large enough.

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Peacock Hinds are easy to care for as long as their needs are met. Some websites suggest the tank needs to be 250 gallons, and this is not out of the question, since these large fish produce a lot of waste and higher water volume will help keep up the water quality.

The tank should have a heavy duty skimmer due to the large amount of waste this fish produces. Feeding groupers fresh water fish will cause health issues if continued for too long.

Do not house them with other Peacock Hinds, although they will be fine with other groupers as long as the tank is large enough. Once they are eating, quickly switch over to prepared foods such as freeze-dried or frozen krill, mys id shrimp and pellets for carnivores.

Also offer a varied diet of raw crustacean and fish flesh which can be obtained from the grocery store. Groupers are hardy and fairly easy to keep, although they do need good filtration.

Large Tanks 100 gallons and over, once water is aged and stable can be changed 20% to 30% every 6 weeks depending on bio load. Large Tanks 100 gallons and over, once water is aged and stable can be changed 10% bi-weekly to 20% monthly, depending on bio load.

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In a 180 gallon tank (681 liters), arrange live rock, forming several places for the Peacock Hind to hide, especially if the fish is a juvenile. Each grouper in the tank will need 2 places to hide to help tone down aggression.

They may be induced to spawn indoors if they are conditioned with more feedings, then the temperature is raised 2F, and there is a longer daylight period. Peacock Hinds, although found in harems in the wild, are best kept singly in a captive environment.

In very large 500 to 1000 gallon systems, outside saltwater ponds or public aquariums, a few females can be kept with a male. Also, arrange the live rock to provide barriers where their vision of each other is blocked from their normal hangout.

Males will spawn with each of the four or five females in the same night, with both releasing their gametes into the water column. A culture was done on wild-caught groupers and there were 11 to 16 different species of parasites found on their bodies, including nematodes and cryptocaryon.

The most easily cured parasite is Crypt (salt water ICH), but they are all treatable if caught in a timely manner. ONEMA is often contracted when the aquarium doesn’t lower their salinity to the proper level of 1.009.

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The ONEMA parasite thrives in mid-level brackish water salinity, which is a specific gravity of around 1.013 to 1.020. Quick Cure and other 37% Formalin products will work perfectly well in both salinity ranges, but the lower 1.009 will help with the oxygen level.

Anything you add to your tank from another system that has not been properly cleaned or quarantined, including live rock, corals, equipment and fish can introduce diseases.

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Sources
1 myfwc.com - https://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/codes/food-bait-finfish/red-grouper-juvenile/
2 en.wikipedia.org - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epinephelus_morio
3 www.fisheries.noaa.gov - https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/red-grouper
4 www.theledger.com - https://www.theledger.com/story/sports/2020/12/24/saltwater-gag-grouper-biting-offshore-and-around-inshore-structures/4024564001/
5 www.fisheries.noaa.gov - https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/atlantic-goliath-grouper
6 www.dreamstime.com - https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/red-grouper.html