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Fish Facts  »  Black Grouper


The black grouper is a large hearty fish with a protruding lower jaw. It has an oblonged body shape and rounded margins on both the dorsal and anal fins. The caudal fin is squared-off, and the dorsal fin has 11 spines and 15-17 rays. The preopercule is rounded without the presence of a notch, which distinguishes it from the gag grouper (Mycteroperca microlepis). The black grouper has olive or gray body coloration along with dark rectangular blotches and small hexagonal bronze spots on its head and lower side. The borders of the soft dorsal, anal, and caudal fin is black or bluish; sometime there is an orangish edge along the pectoral fins.


Black groupers are found mainly on rocky bottoms and in coral reef environments. Their depth ranges from anywhere from 19 to 108 feet (6 to 33 meters). Juvenile black groupers are also found in seagrass beds off of the coast of Florida.


Adult black grouper feed primarily on other smaller reef fishes, including grunts, snapper, and herrings. They also feed on crustaceans. Juvenile black groupers feed solely on crustaceans.


Black groupers are commonly landed in commercial grouper fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and the south Atlantic Ocean. They are also very common in the recreational fishery. The meat generates a fairly high price and is considered very good quality.


Black groupers can reach up to 52 inches (133 cm) in length and can weigh up to 179 pounds (81 kg). Most of the black grouper that are caught average a little over 2 feet in length (70 cm).


The black grouper is found throughout the western Atlantic Ocean. The northern boundary of its range is off Massachusetts and extends east to Bermuda. The range extends south to southern Brazil. It is also present in Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, including the Florida Keys and Cuba.


Florida Museum of Natural History

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