|Malabar grouper, Epinephelus malabaricus|
The word "grouper" comes from the word for the fish, most widely believed to be from the Portuguese name, garoupa. The origin of this name in Portuguese is believed to be from an indigenous South American language.
In Australia, the name "groper" is used instead of "grouper" for several species, such as the Queensland grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus). In the Philippines, it is named lapu-lapu in Luzon, while in the Visayas and Mindanao it goes by the name pugapo. In New Zealand, "groper" refers to a type of wreckfish, Polyprion oxygeneios, which goes by the MÄori name of hÄpuku. In the Middle East, the fish is known as hammour, and is widely eaten, especially in the Persian Gulf region.
Groupers are teleosts, typically having a stout body and a large mouth. They are not built for long-distance fast swimming. They can be quite large, and lengths over a meter and weights up to 100Â kg are not uncommon, though obviously in such a large group species vary considerably. They swallow prey rather than biting pieces off it. 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. They lie in wait, rather than chasing in open water. According to the film-maker Graham Ferreira, there is at least one record, from Mozambique, of a human being killed by one of these fish.
Their mouth and gills form a powerful sucking system that sucks their prey in from a distance. They also use their mouth to dig into sand to form their shelters under big rocks, jetting it out through their gills. Their gill muscles are so powerful that it is nearly impossible to pull them out of a cave if they feel attacked and extend those muscles to lock themselves in.
There is some research indicating that roving coral groupers (Plectropomus pessuliferus) sometimes cooperate with giant morays in hunting.
Most fish spawn between May and August. They are protogynous hermaphrodites, i.e., the young are predominantly female, but transform into males as they grow larger. They grow about a kilogram per year. Generally, they are adolescent until they reach three kilograms, when they become female. At about 10 to 12Â kg, they turn to male. Usually, males have a "harem" of three to fifteen females in the broader region. If no male is available, the largest female turns male.
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. Many species are popular fish for sea-angling. Some species are small enough to be kept in aquaria, though even the small species are inclined to grow rapidly.
A newspaper reported a 180Â kg grouper being caught off the waters near Pulau Sembilan in the Straits of Malacca on Tuesday, 15 January 2008.
Shenzhen newspaper reported a 1.8-meter grouper swallowed a 1.0-meter whitetip reef shark at the Fuzhou Sea World aquarium.
In September 2010, a Costa Rican newspaper reported a 2.3-meter (7.5Â feet) grouper in Cieneguita, LimÃ³n. The weight of the fish was 250Â kg and it was lured using one kilogram of bait.
Peacock grouper (Cephalopholis argus)
Grouper in context
Species of grouper include: