| Grouper, Mycteroperca microlepis, Black grouper, Scamp grouper, Yellowfin grouper|
The red grouper (Epinephelus morio) is a species of fish in the Family Serranidae. The red grouper's typical range is coastal areas in the western Atlantic, stretching from southern Brazil to North Carolina in the US and including the Gulf of Mexico. This demersal, largely sedentary species has an extended (~40 day) pelagic larval stage before it settles in shallow coastal hardbottom habitat as juveniles. They remain in inshore waters for 4–5 years before migrating to offshore hardbottom habitat—particularly on the edge of the continental self—as adults. Spawning occurs offshore between January and June, peaking in May. While primarily eating benthic invertebrates, the red grouper is an opportunistic feeder in the reef community. The diet commonly includes xanthid and portunid crabs, juvenile spiny lobster, and snapping shrimp, with the occasional fish. The red grouper is of moderate size, about 125 cm and weighs 23 kg or more. Body coloration is typically reddish-brown color often with many white spots. When aggravated (they are highly territorial) or involved in spawning activities, these fish can very rapidly change coloration patterns, with the head or other parts of the body turning completely white, and the white spots appearing more intense.
Red grouper Wikipedia
Red grouper, like a number of other grouper species, are long-lived, slow to mature, protogynous hermaphrodites, beginning life as females, with some later transforming into males. Females transform into males between the ages of 7 and 12. These characteristics make them highly vulnerable to overfishing. Refer to the sidebar on the right to see its current conservation status on the IUCN red List.
Red grouper actively excavate pits in the seafloor. This activity increases the architectural complexity of the habitat, which attracts other organisms and increases local biodiversity. They start digging in the sediment from the time they settle out of the plankton and continue throughout their lifetime. They use their caudal fin and their mouths to remove debris and sediment from rocks, creating exposed surfaces on which sessile organisms actively settle (e.g., sponges, soft corals, algae). The exposure of structure also attracts a myriad of other species, including mobile invertebrates and a remarkable diversity of other fishes, from gobies and butterflyfish to grunts and snapper. The lionfish Pterois volitans started invading red grouper habitat by 2008, from Florida Bay to the Florida Keys and offshore to Pulley Ridge, a mesophotic coral reef on the West Florida Shelf west of the Dry Tortugas. Known for being extremely capable predators on small reef fish, scientists are very interested in determining the extent to which their invasion changes the functional dynamics of associated communities.
As other fish, red groupers harbour a number of parasites, including, on its gills, the monogeneans Pseudorhabdosynochus justinella and Pseudorhabdosynochus yucatanensis.