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Predators Of Grouper Fish

author
Ava Flores
• Sunday, 20 June, 2021
• 21 min read

Photo courtesy Oaths large, solitary fish will defend its territory when threatened, with aggressive body language and a rumbling sound it makes with its swim bladder. Its large, thick, elongated body can grow to over 8 feet long (and up to 800 pounds), from rounded snout and small eyes, to short, fan-like tail fin.

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Usually it is a mottled yellow-brown to gray with darker bard and spots, ideal for blending in to their rocky coral and muddy inshore habitat. Other names are Baden (Portuguese), campus (Portuguese), hernia gig ante (Italian), China (Spanish), group (Portuguese), gran morgue (Iranian), guava (Spanish), data (Japanese), harbor (Norwegian), havsabborre (Swedish), Tamara Vienna (Polish), Judaism (Norwegian), hero guava (Spanish), hero (French), orphan (Turkish), raitameriahven (Finnish), Sophos (Greek), scarring (Italian), tip (Palikir), Atari (Icelandic), and zackenbarsch (German).

A 450 pound Goliath grouper caught by Buddy Junks at the Big Indian Rocks Fishing Pier, Florida (1976). Photo courtesy Kenneth Krzysztof historical importance to commercial fisheries, the Goliath grouper has also long been prized by recreational and sport fishers.

Spear fishers find this fish easy to approach; hence in locations accessible to divers their numbers have declined. The large size, slow growth, low reproductive rate, and spawning behavior have made the Goliath grouper especially susceptible to overfishing.

The Goliath grouper is totally protected from harvest and is recognized as a “Critically Endangered” species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Furthermore, the IUCN concludes that the species has been “observed, estimated, inferred or suspected” of a reduction of at least 80% over the last 10 years or three generations.

Historical exploitation of Goliath grouper annual spawning aggregation sites greatly reduced the number of reproductive adults. It is also found in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, from Senegal to Congo although rare in the Canary Islands.

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Occurring in shallow, inshore waters to depths of 150 feet (46 m), the Goliath grouper prefers areas of rock, coral, and mud bottoms. It is territorial near areas of refuge such as caves, wrecks, and ledges, displaying an open mouth and quivering body to intruders.

Additional warning may be delivered in the form of the Goliath grouper ’s ability to produce a distinctly audible rumbling sound generated by the muscular contraction of the swim bladder. Photo courtesy NOAA Distinctive Features Goliath grouper are the largest members of the sea bass family in the Atlantic Ocean.

Coloration This fish is generally brownish yellow, gray, or olive with small dark spots on head, body, and fins. The presence of a number of short weakly developed canine teeth is useful in distinguishing this species from other North Atlantic groupers.

However, this specimen was sampled from a population of individuals depressed by fishing pressure and it is projected that Goliath grouper may live much longer, perhaps as much as 50 years. Photo © Don Maria Food Habits Goliath grouper feed largely on crustaceans (in particular spiny lobsters, shrimps and crabs), fishes (including stingrays and parrot fishes), octopus, and young sea turtles.

However, the significance of this finding is of diminished value when one considers that transitional individuals are known to be rare amongst confirmed species of protogynous hermaphrodites, such as the red grouper (Epimetheus Mario) and gag (Mycteroperca microbes). Photo courtesy National Marine Fisheries Service In support of the notion that the species is a protogynous hermaphrodite is the fact that the largest Goliath groupers are invariably male. Spawning occurs during the summer months of July, August, and September throughout the Goliath grouper ’s range and is strongly influenced by the lunar cycle.

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Ship wrecks, rock ledges, and isolated patch reefs are preferred spawning habitat. In the 1980s these aggregations reached a low of less than 10 individuals per site as fishing pressure greatly impacted this species.

Since receiving legislative protection the spawning aggregations of Goliath grouper have risen to 20-40 individuals per location. These pelagic larvae transform into benthic juveniles at lengths of one inch (2.5 cm), around 25 or 26 days after hatching.

In an 1884 work, “The fishes of the Florida Keys,” David Starr Jordan proposed the inclusion of the Goliath grouper in Epimetheus (Bloch 1793) and this combination remains in use today. Of incidental note is the fact that various authors have incorrectly spelled the specific epithet “Tamara” as “tiara.” The genus name comes from the Greek epinephelos translated as cloudy.

A number of authors treat the name Promiscuous Tamara as valid taxonomy for the Goliath grouper. Throughout most of the year, low numbers of the Atlantic Goliath groupers are observed in any one place.

However, during reproduction (immediately after the full moons between June and December), they come together in groups of at least 100 individuals. These groups are known as spawning aggregations, and they form at relatively few places throughout the species’ range.

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Though they were likely naturally rare, scientists believe that destructive fishing practices have reduced the numbers of the Atlantic Goliath groupers by at least 80% and that the species is now critically endangered. These fish utilize the same, few locations and same, few days for spawning every year, so their presence is quite predictable.

Furthermore, a total lack of fear of people makes them an easy target for spear fishers. Finally, the Atlantic Goliath grouper ’s large size, slow growth, and ease of capture all contribute to slow its recovery, even where laws have been put in place to give it some or complete legal protection from fishing (e.g., in the USA and Brazil).

It is important to continue to monitor Atlantic Goliath grouper population trends in order to determine whether the species is recovering or if stronger legal protection may be required. Scientists only recently divided the species into two, based on their slightly different genetic makeup.

The two species are similar in both appearance and behavior, but little is known about the population trends or conservation status of the Pacific Goliath grouper. 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.

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. Juveniles are found closer to shore in seagrass beds that offer a suitable nursery habitat.

fish predatory aquarium marine grouper predator neon miniatus goby teeth todd blueline
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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 grouper can change color 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. These teeth are not used to tear flesh as with the barracudas and sharks, but rather to prevent small fish from escaping.

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.

grouper coral fish body predator animal
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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. 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. These nematodes can have negative impact on the numbers of eggs produced by female Nassau groupers.

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.

grouper goliath endangered florida critically protect save killing ocean mission
(Source: mission-blue.org)

Synonyms include Antics China Bloch and Schneider 1801, Sparks chrysomelas Labeled 1802, and Serra nus gymnopareius Valentines 1828. Lurking in the deepest recesses of inshore waters is one of the most powerful and challenging species sought by anglers.

Goliath Groupers feed primarily on crustaceans such as spiny lobsters, shrimp, and crabs, as well as stingrays, octopus, and even young sea turtles, all of which it can easily catch and devour with its three to five rows of teeth. Popular locations to fish for Goliath Grouper include bridges and structure when angling inshore, and sunken wrecks and reefs offshore.

The easily approachable nature of the grouper makes it a great fish for spear fishermen, though this has reduced its population in areas accessible to divers. However, if you’re truly dedicated to muscling one of these mammoths to the boat, and you can endure the long and demanding battle of catching one, you’ll be rewarded with a prize like no other.

Be sure to take lots of pictures, because you’ll definitely want proof to back up your story when regaling your jealous friends with your tale of triumph. The Nassau grouper is a U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service species of special concern.

Special concern are species for which the U.S. government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, has some concerns regarding status and threats, but for which information is insufficient to indicate the need to list the species under the U.S. The Nassau grouper is a way for big fish, growing to more than one meter in length and up to 25 kg.

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The Nassau grouper lives in the Atlantic Ocean, Bermuda, Florida and the Bahamas in the north to the south of Brazil, but it is only found in some places in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly along the coast of Belize. In light of the full moon, a huge number of clusters together to mate in grouper spawning mass.

One reason for the Nassau grouper fisheries are so depleted is that its huge spawning groups are easy targets for fishermen, who collect many reproducing fish, then obviously that can not be repeated. However, its numbers were greatly reduced by overfishing in recent years, and it is a slow breeder.

Also, its historical spawning areas are easily targeted for fishing, which tends to remove the reproductively active members of the group. The species is very vulnerable to overexploitation, and is recognized as endangered on the IUCN Red List.

The governments of the United States, the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas have banned fishing for the Nassau grouper, in recent years. The Nassau grouper is down very high and is a serious risk of extinction. An important spawning site for the species is at Glover Reef, off the coast of Belize.

In 2002 this area was declared a special marine reserve, permanently closed to fishing. Also, there are protections for spawning at all times in some places. The Nassau grouper has been represented on stamps of Cuba (1965, 1975), Bahamas (1971 five percent), and Antigua and Barbuda (1987 40c).

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The giant grouper is the largest of all reef-dwelling bony fish, growing up to 8.9 feet (2.7 m) in length and weighing up to 660 pounds (300 kg). A highly adapted ambush predator, the giant grouper will hide in holes, crevices or reef overhangs, and remain nearly motionless while waiting for unsuspecting prey to come close enough to strike.

Its eyes see well in the dark, and can rotate, allowing the grouper to spot approaching prey without even moving its head. When the grouper opens its large mouth, it creates a powerful suction and draws in its target, which it swallows whole.

Has a very large mouth that expands and protrudes to create a strong suction to draw in prey. The giant grouper ’s eyes function effectively in dim light, which gives it an advantage over its prey during dawn and dusk feeding times.

Juvenile giant grouper are bright yellow with large, irregular black or dark brown bars. Because it is long-lived and late to reproduce, the giant grouper is highly susceptible to overfishing.

Fishermen generally target larger individuals, meaning that, frequently, too many breeding specimens are removed from a population to it to sustain itself. Consists of fish, sharks, juvenile sea turtles and crustaceans, including spiny lobster and mud crabs.

goliath grouper juvenile fish soon them disputing apex predator hate right there
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Ambush predator that lies in wait while hiding in holes, crevices and reef overhangs. Found in tropical shallow reefs, caves, wrecks and estuaries commonly to 164 feet (50 m) deep.

Protogynous hermaphrodite; starts out life as female and can later change gender to become male. Although some populations are below target levels, U.S. wild-caught red grouper is still a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.

Fishing gear used to catch red grouper rarely contacts the ocean bottom and has minimal impacts on habitat. Red grouper grow slowly, up to almost 50 inches long and more than 50 pounds.

Large sharks and carnivorous marine mammals prey on adult red grouper. Red grouper are found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts through the Gulf of Mexico and south to Brazil.

Annual catch limits are used for red grouper in the commercial and recreational fisheries. These fisheries are closed when their annual catch limit is projected to be met.

fish saltwater aggressive tank predator grouper eel feeding
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Both the commercial and recreational fisheries have size limits to reduce harvest of immature red grouper. The commercial and recreational fishing seasons are closed from January through April to protect red grouper during their peak spawning period.

Minimum size limits protect immature red grouper. Year-round and/or seasonal area closures for commercial and recreational sectors to protect spawning groupers.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

grouper goliath fish atlantic lobster feeds alamy shopping cart
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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.

Meanwhile, fish caught during closed season are held and later marketed as legal capture. Grouper Malabar grouper, Epimetheus malarious Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Performed Family: Serranidae Subfamily: EpinephelinaeBleeker, 1874 Tribes and genera Not all errands are called 'groupers'; the family also includes the sea basses.

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The common name grouper is usually given to fish in one of two large genera : Epimetheus and Mycteroperca. In addition, the species classified in the small genera Hyperion, Completes, Dermatologist, Graciela, Scotia, and Trio are also called 'groupers'.

However, some hamlets (genus Affected), the hinds (genus Cephalopods), the lyre tails (genus Various) and some other small genera (Gonioplectrus, Nippon, Paranoia) are also in this subfamily, and occasional species in other serrated genera have common names involving the word grouper “. Nonetheless, the word grouper on its own is usually taken as meaning the subfamily Epinephrine.

Groupers are Telecasts, typically having a stout body and a large mouth. They can be quite large, and lengths over a meter and the largest is the Atlantic Goliath grouper (Epimetheus Tamara) which has been weighed at 399 kilograms (880 pounds) and a length of 2.43 m (7 ft 11 1 2 in), though in such a large group, species vary considerably.

They do not have many teeth on the edges of their jaws, but they have heavy crushing tooth plates inside the pharynx. They habitually eat fish, octopuses, and crustaceans.

Reports of fatal attacks on humans by the largest species, such as the giant grouper (Epimetheus lanceolatus) are unconfirmed. They also use their mouths to dig into sand to form their shelters under big rocks, jetting it out through their gills.

groupers predators eel moray shrimp carnivorous opportunistic morays grouper
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The word grouper is from the Portuguese name, group, which has been speculated to come from an indigenous South American language. In New Zealand, “groper” refers to a type of wreck fish, Poly prion oxygenate, which goes by the Mori name haiku.

In the Middle East, the fish is known as hammer ', and is widely eaten, especially in the Persian Gulf region. The species in the tribes Grammistini and Diploprionini secrete a mucus like toxin in their skin called Rammstein and when they are confined in a restricted space and subjected to stress the mucus produces a foam which is toxic to nearby fish, these fishes are often called soap fishes.

The largest males often control harems containing three to 15 females. Groupers often pair spawn, which enables large males to competitively exclude smaller males from reproducing.

As such, if a small female grouper were to change sex before it could control a harem as a male, its fitness would decrease. If no male is available, the largest female that can increase fitness by changing sex will do so.

Gonochorism, or a reproductive strategy with two distinct sexes, has evolved independently in groupers at least five times. The evolution of gonochorism is linked to group spawning high amounts of habitat cover.

reef groupers fish serranidae grouper predator agefotostock h44
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Both group spawning and habitat cover increase the likelihood of a smaller male to reproduce in the presence of large males. Fitness of male groupers in environments where competitive exclusion of smaller males is not possible is correlated with sperm production and thus testicle size.

Gonochoristic groupers have larger testes than protogynous groupers (10% of body mass compared to 1% of body mass), indicating the evolution of gonochorism increased male grouper fitness in environments where large males were unable to competitively exclude small males from reproducing. Many groupers are important food fish, and some of them are now farmed.

Unlike most other fish species which are chilled or frozen, groupers are usually sold live in markets. Groupers are commonly reported as a source of Ciguatera fish poisoning.

DNA barcoding of grouper species might help in controlling Ciguatera fish poisoning since fish are easily identified, even from meal remnants, with molecular tools. In September 2010, a Costa Rican newspaper reported a 2.3 m (7 ft 7 in) grouper in Cieneguita, Limón.

The weight of the fish was 250 kg (550 lb) and it was lured using one kilogram of bait. In November 2013, a 310 kg (680 lb) grouper had been caught and sold to a hotel in Dong yuan, China.

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^ a b c d e Richard van der Loan; William N. Scholar & Ronald Cricket (2014). ^ Share, Redoubt; Honer, Andrea; Ait-El-Djoudi, Karim; Cricket, Hans (2006).

^ John E. Randall; Kashmir Aida; Takashi Libya; Nobuhiro Missouri; His Kamila & Yorkshire Hashimoto (1971). “Rammstein, the skin toxin of soap fishes, and it significance in the classification of the Grammistidae” (PDF).

A phylogenetic test of the size-advantage model: Evolutionary changes in mating behavior influence the loss of sex change in a fish lineage. Estimates of body sizes at maturation and at sex change, and the spawning seasonality and sex ratio of the endemic Hawaiian grouper (Hyporthodus Quercus, f. Epinephelidae).

Constant relative age and size at sex change for sequentially hermaphroditic fish. A new version of the size-advantage hypothesis for sex change: Incorporating sperm competition and size-fecundity skew.

Sex change in fishes: Its process and evolutionary mechanism. Evidence of gonochorism in a grouper, Mycteroperca rosacea, from the Gulf of California, Mexico.

eating 500px grouper fish turtle
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^ Molly, P. P., N. B. Goodwin, I. M. Cote, J. D. Reynolds and M. J. G. Gage. Sperm competition and sex change: A comparative analysis across fishes.

^ Crib, T. H., Bray, R. A., Wright, T. & Michelin, S. 2002: The trematodes of groupers (Serranidae: Epinephrine): knowledge, nature and evolution. ^ Justine, J.-L., Beveridge, I., Box shall, G. A., Bray, R. A., Morale, F., Triples, J.-P. & Whittington, I. D. 2010: An annotated list of parasites (Isopod, Coppola, Monotone, Diogenes, Custody and Nematode) collected in groupers (Serranidae, Epinephrine) in New Caledonia emphasizes parasite biodiversity in coral reef fish.

Folio Parasitologica, 57, 237-262. Doi : 10.14411/fp.2010.032 PDF ^ “Most consumers prefer to purchase live groupers in fish markets”. ^ Schooling, C., Kissinger, D. D., Detail, A., Fraud, C. & Justine, J.-L. 2014: A phylogenetic re-analysis of groupers with applications for ciguatera fish poisoning.

^ ^ “Photos: Fishermen catch wildly huge 686-pound fish, sell it to hotel”. ^ Heather Alexander, Houston Chronicle (21 August 2014).

“Gulf grouper swallows 4 foot shark in a single bite”. Wiki source has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia article Grouper “.

lionfish eat fish invasive safe baby grouper reef they sea them delicious predators oceana species sandals native shutterstock
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Panther GrouperScientific Name Chromites actively Reef Compatible With Caution Care Level Intermediate Disposition Aggressive Min. Tank Size 150 gallons Mature Size 27 inches Diet Carnivore Range Indo-Pacific Size Class Other Common Names Polka-Dot Grouper, Panther Fish, Barracuda Cod, Humpback Grouper Description Panther Groupers are often purchased for their cute clownfish like swimming patterns.

It should be noted that the cute little grouper is going to grow up to be almost 28 inches long quite quickly! Caution should be considered when adding this animal to a community tank as it will eat any fish or crustacean that may fit in its mouth.

These foods include krill, raw table shrimp, squid, clam and mussel. It is also a good idea to occasionally supplement with some type of herbivore diet.

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Sources
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2 www.bullbuster.net - https://www.bullbuster.net/community/articles/how-to/what-i-use-for-goliath-grouper
3 www.boatus.com - https://www.boatus.com/expert-advice/expert-advice-archive/2020/april/fishing-for-goliath-groupers
4 fishinglidokey.com - https://fishinglidokey.com/grouper-fishing-tackle-lures/