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Choosing a Grouper

Groupers can grow to be enormous, reaching lengths of several feet if they are not caught before they reach maturity. The fish are also known as Jewfish in the Caribbean, and it was once common to see these creatures along every healthy reef. Unfortunately, due to fishing pressure, a full-grown healthy grouper is a rare sighting.

Groupers are close relatives of the sea bass, and the two species look very much alike. Both varieties belong to the Serranidae family and the names are often used interchangeably. The Coral Trout, Cephalopholis miniatus, for example, is called a Jewel bass, but is actually considered to be a grouper, so names within this family of fish can get kind of tricky. Should you consider getting a grouper for your tank, identify it by its Latin name to make sure you know exactly what you’re buying.

All groupers are predatory in nature and thus all require some form of meaty foods, preferably live brine shrimp, but chopped squid or clams will also do. They are fairly hardy, although they need good water quality, like just about all other saltwater species. Groupers require a pH of at least 8. Because these species generally hang out close to the bottom and hide in nooks along reefs and rocky shores, they are most comfortable within the normal range of cooler water temperatures, around 75-82 degrees Fahrenheit. They do not require a lot of light, although groupers that come from reefs usually like some light. Many have what seems like an endless appetite, so frequent feeding is usual.

Varieties of Grouper

Several species of grouper are easily kept in larger reef tanks when they are juveniles. Most species grow rapidly, so make sure you know how big your species of choice can get. Keep in mind that even the “small” versions of this species can grow to nearly two feet in length, so they are usually best kept in large tanks (150 or more gallons).