Family Serranidae, SEA BASSES AND GROUPER Epinephelus
Description: color brownish red; lining of mouth scarlet-orange; blotches on sides in unorganized pattern; second spine of dorsal fin longer than others; pectoral fins longer than pelvic fins; squared off tail; margin of soft dorsal black with white at mid-fin; black dots around the eyes.
Similar Fish: Nassau grouper, E. striatus.
Where found: bottom dwelling fish associated with hard bottom; juveniles OFFSHORE along with adults greater than 6 years old; fish from 1 to 6 years occupy NEARSHORE reefs.
Size: common to 15 pounds.
Florida Record: 39 lbs., 8 oz.
Remarks: spawns in April and May; prefer water temperatures between 66 and 77 degrees F; undergoes sex reversal, young individual females becoming males as they age; lifespan of at least 25 years; feeds on squid, crustaceans, and fish.
Distribution: Western Atlantic coast, ranging from Virginia to Rio de Janeiro; occasionally north and south of usual limits.
General: Often found in large numbers in smaller sizes, but larger fish not uncommon in some areas. An important sport fish although not a strong fighter. The fish has excellent table qualities.