Its species name comes from its resemblance to the “a hundred staring eyes” of the monster Argus in Greek mythology. Larger specimens sometimes develop four to six lighter vertical bars on the back half of its body.
Cephalopods Argus, Vilamendhoo Maldives The species is extremely widely distributed, occurring in warm waters from the Red Sea to South Africa and east to French Polynesia and the Pitcairn group. It makes use of a variety of habitats but prefers the exposed fronts of reefs, at depths of up to 40 m.
Hunting, they lie on the bottom and surge forward, preferring juvenile surgeon fish and crustaceans. This grouper may follow and cooperate with another predator species, such as an octopus or eel or camouflage themselves in a school of surgeon fish.
Multiple individuals may cooperate to harass an eel to get it to flush prey for them. The species typically sit on a coral head, retreating when startled.
Red Sea males defend harems of 2–6 females in territories ranging up to .5 acres (0.20 ha). The male visits each female daily, raising his dorsal fin to signal his approach.
The females emerge from hiding, erecting her own dorsal fin and changing to a lighter color. Territorial disputes may involve “color fights” in which two males positioning themselves at right angles to each other.
They then darken their color and repeatedly switch their bars from dark to light. During courtship, both sexes darken except for a white keyhole-shaped patch at the center of the body.
Known in Hawaii as ROI, the state introduced the species in the 1950s to enhance local fisheries. Hawaii's Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) finds that ROI have become the reefs' dominant predator.
Their biomass is now greater than that of all other reef fish predators combined. Prized as delicious eating in other Pacific regions, in Hawaii's waters ROI may contain the ciguatera toxin, which builds up in humans and causes serious illness.
A study published in 2007 found that 18% of ROI sampled from Oahu and Hawaii islands had toxins above levels safe for consumption. Due to high variability of toxin levels between individuals in the same area, toxicity cannot be predicted based on location.
Because of the toxicity issues, ROI does not have a functional fishery, with just an average of $1000 per year in sales. Roi's feed primarily on juvenile fish that have recruited the reef.
The family of fish that make up the majority of their diet Scarsdale or Parrot fish, are crucial to the coral reef ecosystem by removing algal growth on coral colonies through feeding. Hawaii has the highest rate of endemic of its nearshore marine fish species at 24.3%.
The lack of natural predators to control ROI populations along with their high efficiency is a major threat to the unique fish fauna found in Hawaii. On Maui, spearfishes participate in “ROI Roundup” tournaments that target these problematic fish, attempting to reduce their numbers and impact.
This practice has spread to other islands, where there are similar tournaments that target ROI and other invasive fish species. These events not only reduce the ROI population, but also work to boost public awareness about this issue.
In research conducted on the Great Barrier Reef individuals of up to 40 years in age were found. They have the ability to lighten their coloration and will sometimes have white vertical bars down their body.
The two males approach each other from the front and then turn sideways at close to a right angle so that each can see the others body. They are found on the East coast of Africa from Durban in the south to the Red Sea, eastwards to the mid Pacific including most islands.
They are typically found on exposed reefs rather than in protected areas or estuaries. However, multiple cases of ciguatera poisoning occurred which were traced back to the PeacockGrouper.
Their main diet is small fishes and crustaceans, however given they are caught by fishermen on the hook this indicates that they will scavenge as well. They are ambush predators and feed in the early morning and late afternoon when their coloration gives them more camouflage.
Based on social and environmental cues some larger females will turn into males. Mating typically occurs around spring tides when there is more water movement.
With their bright coloration these fish are kept in large aquariums by some specialized collectors but because of their propensity to eat smaller fish great care has to be taken with their tank mates. If one dives in the Marine Park on Mafia Island there are noticeably far greater numbers of this species.
Groupers of the world (family Serranidae, subfamily Epinephrine). This fish is an attack predator with a number of hunting techniques: lying to wait in coral, swimming in mid water, following other predators like eels and octopus and catching their prey if originally missed, and hiding within schools of fish and darting out at unsuspecting prey.
Habitat: C. Argus can be found on shallow exposed reefs in warm tropical waters. It is a protogynous hermaphrodite, meaning it begins life as a female and changes to a male as it matures.
Groupers are solitary carnivores that hunt near the bottom usually at dusk. Juvenile fish become adults and some change shape or their color.
Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govIdentification: Previous reports (e.g., Mailed 1984) refer to this species as Cephalopods Gustavus. Small blue Bocelli ringed in black cover the body.
Five to six pale vertical bars are often apparent posterior to the pectoral fins and a large white patch occurs on the breast. Dorsal, anal and caudal fins generally with a narrow white band along their posterior margins.
The blue spotted hind has a similar color pattern, with a reddish-brown background and blue Bocelli covering the body. Similar species in Florida: Coney (Cephalopods vulva) has two black spots on lower lip and two black spots at base of canal fin.
Grays by (C. orientates) has red spots on the body and a rounded caudal fin. Red hind (Epimetheus Gustavus) has dark margins on rear dorsal, anal, and caudal fins.
Native Range: This common and widely-distributed grouper ranges from the Red Sea to South Africa and east to French Polynesia and the Pitcairn Islands group, including northern Australia, Lord Howe Island and southern Japan (Heemskerk and Randall 1993; Carpenter and Nail 1999). Early reports (from Valentines in 1828 and Quo & Gamma rd in 1824) listed the species from Hawaii; however, these reports are considered erroneous (see Randall and Ben-Tuvia 1983; Randall and Heemskerk 1991; Muddy 2005).
Non indigenous Occurrences : In Hawaii, 571 small individuals from Moore (Society Islands) were released off the islands of Oahu and Hawaii in 1956 (Randall 1987). These fish became established in the Hawaiian Islands and entered the commercial and sport fisheries by the early 1970s (Randall and Alabama 1972).
The species is present in the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park (Ailment 1999). In Florida, the peacock hind has been seen off Boca Raton in 2004 (T. Jackson, peers.
), Pompano Beach in 2005 (REEF 2008) and Key West in 2006 (T. Jackson, peers. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records.
The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Cephalopods Argus are found here. Ecology: This common grouper occurs on coral reefs over a depth range of 1-40 m, typically less than 10 m (Shrivel and Michelson 1989b; Heemskerk and Randall 1993).
The species is territorial, and partitions its habitat into large (up to 2000 m 2) territories occupied by a male and up to 12 females and sub-territories, each inhabited by a single female (Shrivel and Michelson 1989b, 1991). Like many groupers, the peacock hind is a protogynous hermaphrodite, and switches from a female to a male during its lifespan.
Females reach sexual maturity at 1.2 years (20.0 cm TL). Sex change, when females transition into functional males, occurs around 11.2 years (39.9 cm TL) (Stemmed et al. 2016).
The species feeds primarily at night in Madagascar (Harmelin-Viven and Bourbon 1976), but feeds during the early morning and late afternoon in the Red Sea (Shrivel and Michelson 1989a,b). The diet is composed mainly of fishes (generally over 80%), but also includes some invertebrates (Randall and Brock 1960; Harmelin-Viven and Bourbon 1976; Shrivel & Michelson 1989a).
The peacock hind is able to consume surprisingly large prey items; one report documented that a 231 mm peacock hind consumed a 203 mm prey fish (Randall and Brock 1960). The peacock hind is an important food-fish throughout the Indolent Pacific region; however, due to its carnivorous nature, it has been blamed for numerous cases of Ciguatera poisoning in both the native and introduced ranges (Randall 1987; Heemskerk and Randall 1993).
A study in Hawaii by Dairying and Camera (2009), showed that 18.2% of C. Argus specimens collected contained ciguatoxin in concentrations potentially harmful to humans. Means of Introduction: Intentionally stocked as a food/sport fish in Hawaii'i.
Status: Established in Hawaii (Randall and Alabama 1972) as far north as Ni'IAU (Muddy 2005). Impact of Introduction: In Hawaii'i this species has spread throughout the main islands and has become the dominant large-bodied predator on reefs.
A diet study by Dairying et al. (2009) showed that 98% of the diet was composed of fish and that peacock hind consumed many kinds of fish. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific.
FAO Species Identification Guides for Fishery Purposes. Ciguatera in the introduced fish Cephalopods Argus (Serranidae) in Hawaii'i and implications for fishery management.
Diet composition and prey selection of the introduced grouper species peacock hind (Cephalopods Argus) in Hawaii. Courtship and spawning behavior of the pygmy grouper, Cephalopholisspiloparaea (Serranidae: Epinephrine), with notes on C. Argus and C. rode.
Feeding behavior of some carnivorous fishes (Serranidae and Scorpaenidae) from Tulane (Madagascar). Groupers of the World (Family Serranidae, Subfamily Epinephrine).
A review of the groupers (Pisces: Serranidae: Epinephrine) of the Red Sea, with description of a new species of Cephalopods. Observations on the ecology of epinephrine and Jutland fishes of the Society Islands, with emphasis on food habits.
Revision of Indo-Pacific groupers (Performed: Serranidae: Epinephrine), with descriptions of five new species. Report on the introduction of serrated and Jutland fishes from French Polynesia to the Hawaiian Islands.
Exotic species sighting programs and volunteer database. Reproductive life history of the introduced peacock grouper Cephalopods Argus in Hawaii.
Food habits and prey selection of three species of groupers from the genus Cephalopods (Serranidae: Teleostean). Habitat partitioning between species of the genus Cephalopods (Pisces: Serranidae) across the fringing reef of the Gulf of Arab (Red Sea).
Territoriality and associated behavior in three species of the genus Cephalopods (Pisces: Serranidae) in the Gulf of Arab (Red Sea). Management of nonindigenous aquatic fish in the U.S. National Park System.
Paper presented at the 129th Annual Meeting of The American Fisheries Society, Charlotte, North Carolina, September 1, 1999 (unpublished manuscript). The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.
The peacock grouper became established and populations expanded on Hawaiian reefs, but local consumers lost interest after a number of cases of human neurological disease were traced to ciguatera poisoning linked to the species. The researchers took samples from nearly 300 fish, hoping to find patterns in geographical location, size or condition that would allow them to predict which populations or individuals were safe for human consumption.
It’s incredibly important to get ample omega-3 fatty acids, and certain fish can serve as potent sources. But due to issues like mining, sewage and fossil fuel emissions, heavy metals like mercury are winding up in the water and building up in our fish.
Unfortunately, low-level mercury poisoning from contaminated seafood is a real threat and can lead to devastating effects on health. In fact, the shift to eating more farmed fish like tilapia is leading to highly inflammatory diets, according to a 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Wake Forest University School of Medicine researchers say tilapia is one of the most widely consumed fish in America. Sustaining high levels of inflammation in the body can worsen symptoms of autoimmune disorders and may be linked to chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
If you must eat this fish, avoid tilapia from China, where farming practices are particularly worrisome. In 2014, Oceana, the largest ocean conservation group in the world, conducted an investigation using data from the National Marine Fisheries Service.
They found that commercial fishermen in the U.S. throw about 2 billion pounds of “by catch” overboard each year. According to the report, if you’ve eaten U.S. halibut, there’s a good chance it came from this damaging fishery.
Without further protection and enforcement of existing efforts, we may forever lose one of the biggest, most interesting fishes in the world. Now common on menus around the U.S., Chilean sea bass overfishing has left this species in serious trouble.
Furthermore, harvesting the fish from Chile is also plagued by poor management and by catch problems. Eel Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch places eel on the “Avoid” list on its sushi guide because it’s slow to mature and has been overfished in many parts of the world, bringing some populations to collapse.
In the Delaware River, for instance, eels are an integral part of spreading mussel populations that serve as natural water filters. Aside from the issues with overfishing, eels tend to readily absorb and store harmful chemicals and contaminants such as poly chlorinated biphenyls (PCs) and flame retardants.
They’re also commonly treated with a broad range of antibiotics, in addition to pesticides and disinfectants. In 2009, Italian researchers discovered that 4-hexylresorcinol, a food additive used to prevent discoloration in shrimp that could reduce sperm count in men and increase breast cancer risk in women.
Shrimp farm ponds are also treated with harmful chemicals and pesticides such as malachite green, rote none and organic compounds, all of which can have detrimental effects on health. Plus, an Associated Press investigation uncovered a slavery network in Thailand dedicated to peeling shrimp sold around the world.
In 2007, Thailand alone exported about $1.24 billion to the United States, according to Food and Water Watch. Although Alaskan king crab legs legally can only be called that if they’re harvested from Alaska, widespread mislabeling is the norm.
Generally known as “slime head” within the scientific community, seafood marketers had other ideas for this fish and gave the species a more appetizing name. Since orange roughly don’t reach sexual maturity until at least 20 years old, they are very slow to recovery.
According to Oceana: “The extremely long lifespan and the late age at maturity imply that a decimated population may take a half century or longer before it can recover.” Beyond that, the orange roughly is also known to have higher mercury levels, which can be dangerous if consumed in large amounts.
But apart from that, most shark species, which are slow to mature and don’t have a lot of offspring, are severely depleted. Often referred to as Hon Mauro on sushi menus, this simply means blue fin tuna, which should be avoided at all costs.
A better sushi choice would be fatso/skip jack tuna caught through Pacific troll or pole and line methods only. However, due to its high demand for sushi, fisheries managers are still allowing commercial fishing to target it.
Sadly, blue fin tuna numbers are at just 2.6 percent of historic population levels. Aside from the obvious population collapse and extinction threat, this is also a large predatory fish that harbors higher levels of mercury.
In fact, the mercury in this fish is so high that the Environmental Defense Fund recommends women and children avoid it altogether. That’s certainly the case with king mackerel, as the Food and Drug Administration warns women and children to outright avoid it.
You may want to avoid Spanish mackerel, too, which has also been shown to harbor elevated mercury levels. Luckily, Atlantic mackerel is high in omega-3s, low in mercury and is rated a top choice in terms of health and sustainability.
In 2015, an investigation found that more than a third of 19 restaurants in Atlanta sold fantasies (also known as “Vietnamese catfish”) as grouper. Testing also found that grouper for sale is actually often king mackerel or white fin weakfish, a cheaper alternative.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, sturgeon are “more critically endangered than any other group of species.” The best fish options are ones that come from sustainable fisheries, are low in contaminants and high in omega 3 fatty acids.
Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch calls this the “Super Green List.” In addition to being rich in heart-healthy fats, salmon is a great source of protein, B vitamins, potassium and selenium.
Atlantic mackerel This oily fish is also high in health omega-3 fatty acids, along with protein, niacin, selenium and vitamin B12. Keep in mind that mackerel is often sold preserved in tons of salt, so be sure to soak it and rinse well before cooking and eating to reduce sodium levels.
Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught, from the U.S. or British Columbia) Sable fish/Black Cod (from Alaska and Canadian Pacific) Finding safer seafood can be challenging and requires you to consider many factors, including sustainability, nutritional value, mercury levels and the risk of contamination with pollutants, pesticides or harmful chemicals.