This is a diverse group of fish that includes aquarium favorites such as antics, bassets, and hamlets. Here I want to focus on the subfamily Epinephrine, specifically on the smaller, aquarium-suitable representatives that are easily obtainable in the hobby.
The subfamily includes some true monsters that are best left in the ocean, but there are also plenty of species that can be housed in a 200-gallon-plus aquarium, and some are even small enough to make do with slightly smaller accommodations. As with all common names, this is purely arbitrary, and the hinds were at one time groupers in good standing.
I’ll lump the hinds and groupers together here, as their care, general morphology, and behavior are more or less identical. Ranging in color from drab to stunningly vibrant, even the less-garish species possess a personality that endears them to many keepers, including yours truly.
Often when peering at a grouper in a large marine aquarium, you ’ll find it actually looking back at you, as if wondering just exactly what you ’re up to! It’s very important that the aquarium is realistic when considering buying one of these specimens at his or her local fish store.
Though they are stunning animals, they are often victims of classic impulse purchases by aquariums with accommodations that are far too small. This is both to provide the needed swimming space and to make sure dissolved nutrients are kept at reasonable levels between water changes.
While small individuals are often offered for sale, they can grow quickly, and you shouldn’t get one thinking toucan get a bigger tank down the road. As mentioned above, 200 gallons is a good minimum target if one is planning on keeping a grouper with a handful of other appropriate fish, but a few of the smaller species such as C. Formosa or E. Angus can live quite comfortably in a 120-gallon or larger community aquarium, whereas larger species such as the lyre tail grouper Various lout, the spotted coral grouper Plectropomus maculate, and the tomato hind Cephalopods sonnet all need accommodations of greater than 300 gallons.
The aquarium should steer clear of narrow show tanks and look for aquariums with a front-to-back measurement of at least 24 inches for most species. Additionally, out of sight is out of mind with regard to territorial disputes, and plenty of rocks will mitigate aggressive interactions with tank mates.
A small 3-inch coral hind or miniature grouper C. minima is easy to accommodate in a 40-gallon tank, but shortly down the road you ’ll have a fish on your hands that has outgrown its quarters and then some. As it grows, however, it places an increasingly large load on the filtration system, and managing the nitrogen cycle can become a real challenge.
An 11-inch honeycomb grouper E. hexagonal puts away a considerable amount of food, with a waste output to match! At a single feeding, a fish this size can easily eat two 8-inch squids whole, and a proportional amount of waste is produced as a result.
Groupers are resilient fish and thankfully handle shipping well, so most specimens are still in fine shape by the time they reach your local store. When introducing a grouper into your display (after a six-week quarantine period, of course), it’s a good idea, if practical, to rearrange the decor in order to break up existing territories in the tank.
This way the fish in question are again on equal footing, neither has an established territory, and both are somewhat disoriented at suddenly finding themselves in new surroundings. The established fish will invariably be irritated at the new arrival in his territory, and will hold the upper hand in the inevitable confrontation.
This displaying, gaping, chasing, and ritualized combat starts out rather intensely by both individuals, and decreases in frequency and severity over a matter of hours. While this might seem a straightforward consideration, these fish can surprise you in this regard, so err on the side of caution when picking tank mates.
When selecting tank mates, keep the likely adult size in mind for all species that you ’re considering, as well as the growth rates of all fish concerned. An often-overlooked aspect by lazy keepers, variety in the diet is essential, and every effort should be made on the part of the aquarium to make sure the fish in his care receive a varied array of food offerings.
It should be noted, however, that all predators, be they reptiles, birds, cats, or fish, need whole food items in order to obtain all the nutrients they require, not just meat. Additionally, there are frozen preparations available that are already vitamin fortified, which make excellent food for these fish.
The FCC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) manages the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean differently, and it’s important to know what’s in season and what toucan harvest from each shoreline. The Gulf of Mexico is a unique body of water that provides commercial and recreational anglers plenty of fishing opportunities.
The Gulf covers most of Florida’s west coast, from Pensacola in the Panhandle to the start of the Everglades at the tip of the peninsula. This is important to keep in mind as there are different regulations for what’s in season and what toucan harvest depending on if you ’re in state or federal waters.
For Gag Grouper fishing in the Gulf, it’s important to note what county you ’re embarking from. For counties of Franklin, Weibull, Taylor and Jefferson (in the Panhandle area from Apalachicola to Steinhatchee) there is open season in state waters from April 1 to June 30, and again from September 1 to December 31.
Black, Red, Scamp, Yellow fin and Yellow mouth Grouper all have similar regulations in the Gulf. It’s open season in both state and federal waters for Rock Hind, Coney, Yellow edge and Snowy Groupers.
Toucan ask your charter captain if the size you have is a keeper or not; or refer to the FCC regulations to make sure you ’re staying compliant. Now moving east to the beautiful Atlantic Ocean where there are excellent opportunities for grouper fishing.
Keep in mind, the FCC considers the Everglades and Florida Keys as part of the Atlantic Ocean waters, and all fishing done in these areas must stay within Atlantic-specific regulations. From the Florida Keys to Jacksonville, anglers have hundreds of cities to choose from to launch your grouper expedition.
The real question is, what subspecies of grouper you ’ll find at the end of your line. The season runs until December 31, and each angler can collect one or the other each trip within the 3 grouper aggregate.
The Panther Grouper can get to be about 27 inches (70 cm) when fully grown, and they eat like it's going out of style. To adequately keep them you should be thinking about a 300 plus gallon aquarium (1135 liters).
The juvenile groupers around 3 or 4 inches are collected on the reef and sold to stores, but they can quickly outgrow most tanks. The larger groupers are a food fish and sold in Asian markets.
They will eat most meaty type fish foods such as silver sides, crustaceans, squid, etc. So lots of cover (live rock) will be needed to help make them feel secure.
As they grow they will become bolder but for the most part will leave other similarly sized fish alone, including other Panther Groupers. Youcankeep them in multiples provided that you have a tank in the several hundreds/thousands of gallons range.
Breeding : Fish base reports a spawning event in 1979 but the eggs died. These groupers are open water, substratum egg scattered.