Commissioner Adam H. Putnam


Florida Agriculture: 500 Years in the Making

Grouper

Types of Florida Grouper

Black Grouper

Black Grouper

Family Serranidae, Sea basses and grouper
Mycteroperca bonaci

Description: Olive or gray body coloration with black blotches and brassy spots; gently rounded preopercle.

Similar fish: Gag, M. microlepis; yellowfin grouper, M. venenosa.

Where found: Offshore species; adults associated with rocky bottoms, reef, and drop off walls in water over 60 feet deep; young may occur inshore in shallow water.

Size: Common to 40 pounds, may attain weights exceeding 100 pounds.

Remarks: Spawns between May and August; protogynous hermaphrodites, young predominantly female, transforming into males as they grow larger; larger individuals generally in greater depths; feeds on fish and squid.

Culinary: Popular with southern chefs. The flesh is firm and sweet, and has a small bloodline. It is the most versatile in its class due to a high moisture and oil content, and denseness of flake. The flavor of these species is distinctive when compared to other grouper and finishes with a nice lobster and shrimp flavor due to the grouper's diet of shellfish.

Gag

Gag
Family: Serranidae, Sea basses and grouper
Mycteroperca microlepis

Description: Brownish gray in color with dark worm-like markings on sides; strong serrated spur at bottom margin of preopercle, less noticeable in large specimens; fins dark, with anal and caudal having white margin. Often confused with black grouper; tail of gag is slightly concave, black is square; gag has white margin on anal and caudal fins, black does not; under 10 pounds, gag's spur on preopercle is distinctive, where black is gently rounded.

Similar fish: Black grouper, M. bonaci.

Where found: Adults offshore over rocks and reefs; juveniles occur in seagrass beds inshore. Size: common to 25 pounds.

Remarks: Most widely sold Florida grouper. Forms spawning aggregations in water no shallower than 120 feet in Middle Grounds area, January through March; current research to identify similar aggregations off Atlantic coast is ongoing. Young gags are predominantly female, transforming into males as they grow larger; feeds on fish and squid.

Culinary: Popular with southern chefs. The flesh is firm and sweet, and has a small bloodline. It is the most versatile in its class due to a high moisture and oil content, and denseness of flake. The flavor of these species is distinctive when compared to other grouper and finishes with a nice lobster and shrimp flavor due to the grouper's diet of shellfish.

Scamp

Scamp
Family Serranidae, Sea basses and grouper
Mycteroperca phenax

Description: Color light gray or brown; large adults with elongated caudal-fin rays; reddish brown spots on sides that tend to be grouped into lines; some yellow around corners of mouth.

Similar fish: Yellowmouth grouper, M. interstitialis.

Where found: Near shore reefs off the northeastern coast, and on offshore reefs in the Gulf.

Size: Generally smaller than gags or blacks.

Remarks: Spawns in late spring; feeds on small fish, squid, and crustaceans; undergoes sex transformation from female to male as it becomes older.

Yellowfin Grouper

Yellowfin Grouper
Family Serranidae, Sea basses and grouper
Mycteroperca venenosa

Description: Color highly variable greenish olive or bright red with longitudinal rows of darker black blotches over entire fish; outer one-third of pectoral fins bright yellow; lower parts of larger fish with small bright red spots.

Similar fish: Black grouper, M. bonaci; other grouper.

Where found: Offshore on reefs off southern portions of Florida.

Size: Common to 20 pounds.

Remarks: Undergoes sex reversal from female to male in latter part of life; feeds on fish and squid.

Yellowmouth Grouper

Yellowmouth Grouper
Family Serranidae, Sea basses and grouper
Mycteroperca interstitialis

Description: Color tan or brown with darker spots, or a network of spots, fused into lines; distinct yellow wash behind the jaws; yellow around the eyes; outer edges of fins yellowish.

Similar fish: Scamp, M. phenax.

Where found: Offshore over reefs and rocks; not as common as scamp in the Gulf; range limited to southern Florida.

Size: Common to 15 pounds.

Remarks: Undergoes sex reversal, young individuals are female, older individuals becoming male; young fish are bicolor, dark above white below; feeds on small fish and crustaceans.

Yellowedge Grouper

Yellowedge Grouper
Family Serranidae, Sea basses and grouper
Epinephelus flavolimbatus

Description: Distinguished by yellow margin on the dorsal fin.

Size: Can weigh up to 45 pounds.

Where found: Deep-water grouper commonly taken from depths exceeding 450 feet; caught with tilefish and snowy groupers.

Misty Grouper and Snowy Grouper

Misty Grouper
Snowy Grouper

Description: Misty grouper has 8 or 9 regular darker brown bars on the side

Size: Can weigh between 5 and 235 pounds.

Where found: Two distinct deep-water grouper species, taken from depths exceeding 400 feet. Snowy grouper have been taken from waters exceeding 1,000 feet.

Red Grouper

Red Grouper
Family Serranidae, Sea basses and grouper
Epinephelus morio

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 midfin; 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 near shore reefs.

Size: common to 15 pounds.

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; feeds on squid, crustaceans, and fish.

Culinary: Popular with southern chefs. The flesh is firm and sweet, and has a small bloodline. It is the most versatile in its class due to a high moisture and oil content, and denseness of flake. The flavor of these species is distinctive when compared to other grouper and finishes with a nice lobster and shrimp flavor due to the grouper's diet of shellfish.

Illustrations © Diane Rome Peebles.


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