Epinephelus Itajara

Serranidae

Perciformes

Onshore, Nearshore, Reef, Backcountry, Flats, Wreck

75 - 150 pounds

50" - 98"

Goliath Grouper 

Also Known As: Atlantic Goliath Grouper, Guasa, Mero, Grouper, Itajara

Guides Who Fish This Species

Goliath Grouper

 

Fish Description

As the name implies, this is a gigantic species of Grouper. As the biggest Grouper in the western Atlantic, they are stocky in shape, have tiny eyes and broadheads. Their pectoral and tail fins are connected along the back. They can live in brackish water and tolerate low oxygen levels.

They can grow to 8 feet in length and weigh up to 800 pounds. 

 

Atlantic Goliath Grouper vs. Pacific Goliath Grouper

At one time, it was thought the Atlantic and Pacific Goliath Groupers were the same species, and centuries ago, they were the same species. They are now considered sister species. There are a few distinguishing marks between the two. The Pacific Goliath Grouper has primarily dark grey coloration, which is punctuated by small, white spots and blotches, and many times yellow accenting their fins. The Atlantic Goliath Grouper is mottled tan and grey. The Atlantic Grouper is also larger than the Pacific species.

 

Interesting Fish Facts

 Adult Goliath Groupers gather together in spawning groups as soon as they prepared to mate. The groups vary in size, number, and location. Once they are together, the females lay eggs. Once the males fertilize the eggs, they rise to the surface of the water. The eggs then drift with the ocean currents for about 40 to 60 days, reaching the nursery areas as the baby groupers hatch out. These tiny groupers swim to the bottom of the ocean and hide in sea mangroves and grasses until they grow larger. 

They may experience a sex reversal with age. All young groupers are female, but as they grow older, some become male. Only small percentages remain out of maturity long enough to become males, thus ensuring that most groupers are egg-laying females. 

In addition to its potentially large size, an extra defense that some Groupers have is the ability to change their skin color. At times the color change is as simple as changing from dark to light to mix in with different light levels. Other Groupers have developed colorful patterns consisting of stripes, blotches, or spots that help them blend with the ocean floor and reef bottom.</