Animals

Fin-tastic Facts About The Nassau Grouper For Kids

One of the best Nassau grouper facts is that these fish live mostly around the western Atlantic, in tropical waters
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Nassau grouper (scientific name: Epinephelus striatus) is a species of large coral reef-loving predators. They form part of the order Perciformes (perch-like fish) and, whilst they might not be the cutest fish around there's certainly plenty of fascinating facts about these unusual sea creatures. They were first recognized in 1792 by German Ichthyologist Marcus Eliese Bloch, and to this day we are still discovering many fascinating things about this species.

Interestingly, groupers can change color, and swim long distances to meet annually in spawning aggregations. Scientists from across the world study their interesting patterns of reproduction, where hundreds and thousands of fish meet. If you are not sure what that means, take a look at our brilliant fact file about the Nassau grouper, to find out what they love to prey on and more about their staggering size. What's more, if you are keen to learn more about other fish, check out our fact files on  John Dory and koi fish too!

Nassau grouper

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Damselfish, snappers, and crustaceans

What do they eat?

Carnivore

Average litter size?

N/A

How much do they weigh?

55-63 lb (24- 29 kg)

How long are they?

3.15-28.35 in (8-72 cm)


How tall are they?

N/A


What do they look like?

Tawny brown, light beige, pinkish red

Skin Type

Scales

What are their main threats?

Humans, sharks, and barracudas

What is their conservation status?

Critically Endangered

Where you'll find them

Coastal regions and reefs

Locations

The Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and Florida

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Fish

Scientific Name

Epinephelus striatus

Family

Serranidae

Genus

Epinephelus

Nassau Grouper Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Nassau grouper?

A Nassau grouper is a species of fish.

What class of animal does a Nassau grouper belong to?

Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus) fish belong to the fish class of the animal kingdom.

How many Nassau groupers are there in the world?

There are roughly 10,000 Nassau grouper fish in the world, although sadly their population is in decline.

Where does a Nassau grouper live?

Nassau groupers live on shallow coral reefs around the Caribbean Sea, the Bahamas, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico. Mostly they can be found around the tropical waters of the western Atlantic sea.

What is a Nassau grouper's habitat?

Nassau groupers live on shallow coral reefs around the Caribbean Sea, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico. Although they can swim very deep, they are most commonly found at around 98 ft (30 m), near a shallow reef or seagrass. They like areas with good visibility of other reef fish. Juvenile fish tend to stay closer to the coast, close to seagrass that offers them a level of protection. They are very solitary fish, although occasionally they have been known to form a school with other fish.

Who do Nassau groupers live with?

They are solitary predators. They prefer to be alone close to the reef and are relatively inactive. When they begin their spawning season, they meet with up to thousands of other Nassau grouper fish (known as spawning aggregations). They also allow wrasse fish to enter their mouths and clean them!

How long does a Nassau grouper live?

Amazingly, these endangered marine predators can live up to 29 years.

How do they reproduce?

Nassau groupers have a fascinating reproduction process that intrigues many scientists across the globe. They breed annually, in what is known as a spawning season, and head to specific locations consistently to reproduce. This is often around a full moon in the winter months, and as many as 100,000 fish meet to reproduce and lay eggs. Amazingly, they have been reported to swim up to 136 miles (220 km) to reach their spawning destination. These big meetings are known as spawning aggregations, where the fish will migrate to meet each other. They even change color during the mating process, often becoming darker in tone. Spawning usually occurs three to five days after the full moon, and in some cases, up to eight days later. Once the eggs have been released, the eggs are fertilized by a male fish. This usually happens at the same time, known as broadcast spawning. The eggs then hatch approximately 23-48 hours later. They are not recognizable as groupers until about 40 days later.

Nassau groupers take around four to eight years to reach sexual maturity, the average age is around five years. This is another reason why they are considered critically endangered. If the Nassau grouper fish is kept in captivity, they tend to reach maturity earlier. This is believed to a result of less environmental distress, and different feeding patterns.

What is their conservation status?

They are an endangered species and great work is being undertaken to support them with lots of conservation efforts. They are listed as endangered by the World Conservation Union and as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Unfortunately due to their large size, grouper fish are considered a prize fish status for those who enjoying fishing. Secondly, due to the destruction of their coral reef habitat, we are seeing wild groupers and their juveniles on the decline.

Nassau Grouper Fun Facts

What do Nassau groupers look like?

Nassau groupers form part of the order Perciformes (perch-like fish). They have large eyes and a big body. Groupers have five vertically striped bars across their body, with a dark patch around their tail. One dark brown bar runs from their face up to their dorsal fin. Adults have a line of black spots under their eyes. Their body can be described as an oblong shape.

When it comes to color, they are most commonly found in their coastal habitat in shades of brown and silver. Amazingly if they sense a predator in their habitat, they can change to a dark color to hide. Their fins are spiny, and they are one of the biggest fish around the reefs.

Nassau Groupers have large thick lips and an oblong body.

* Please note that this is an image of a grouper fish, not a Nassau grouper specifically. If you have an image of a Nassau grouper, please let us know at hello@kidadl.com.

How cute are they?

Unless you find giant thick-lipped fish cute, the Nassau grouper certainly isn't the cutest fish species around. They have a large body and no remarkably cute features. They are not brightly colored, and they are predators to many other marine creatures. Around the reefs, you can find plenty of other fish, which range from camouflage to polka dot! That said, divers do enjoy encountering the curious grouper, and their zebra stripes.

How do they communicate?

Although groupers are very independent fish and spend most of their time alone, they do communicate with each other and other marine creatures by changing the pattern and color of their skin. This mostly occurs before spawning. When spawning, a change in color shows their prospective mate that they are receptive to reproducing. They can also change color to indicate aggression. Interestingly, after the female fish lays eggs, they do not spend any time with their offspring.

How big is a Nassau grouper?

These fishes are one of the biggest around! As adults, they can reach as big as 55-63 lb (24- 29 kg), around half the weight of a Chilean dolphin! When they are juveniles, their caudal fin is more of a round shape. When they reach full size, the fin becomes more truncated. This is a specific characteristic of these fish.

How fast can a Nassau grouper swim?

This grouper (Nassau grouper) isn't the fastest swimmer in the reefs. In fact, they remain very slow as they are predators waiting to pounce on their prey. They do swim together for migration towards spawning aggregations though.

How much does a Nassau grouper weigh?

Nassau grouper fish are very heavy, they can weigh up to 55-63 lb (24- 29 kg). They are one of the biggest fish on the reefs.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Juvenile Nassau grouper fish do not have a specific sex until they reach sexual maturity.  However, as with all fish, males and females do not have specific names.

What would you call a baby Nassau grouper?

Like all fish, baby fish are known as 'fry'. Younger fish are also known as juveniles.

What do they eat?

As predators, Nassau grouper fish can inhale smaller fish with their large mouths, and they like to swallow them whole. When they are younger they prey on both crustaceans and fish, and as they get older they prefer other fish. In particular, they like damselfish. Interestingly, although they suck in their prey, they also have slender teeth. These teeth aren't for chomping, but for stopping small fish from escaping.

Are they eaten by humans?

Absolutely, Nassau groupers are popular for fishing and appear on many menus. Unfortunately, the overfishing of this species makes them an endangered species. Spearfishing is a popular way to catch a grouper, along with recreational fishing. If you are aiming to catch a grouper (in a non-prohibited zone) you will need to use live bait.

They are a particular menu staple within the Caribbean. They are lean fish, with a flaky but firm flesh. The flavor is not overly strong when compared to other fish and it's a popular choice for use in a Caribbean coconut curry.

It's important to note, over the years there have been cases of ciguatera poisoning from eating Nassau groupers. This is a very rare condition, caused by a build-up of algae toxins in the fish. Poisoning can last a few weeks in humans and causes gastro-related issues and weakness in the arms and legs.

Would they make a good pet?

Currently, in the US, the harvest of Nassau grouper fish is prohibited due to their endangered marine status. Although they may be found in some public aquariums if you want to see this species you may have to consider a diving trip around the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, or the Bahamas.

In other parts of the world, it is possible to have a pet grouper, however, be warned they will need an extremely large tank. They can be kept alone or in pairs. If there are lots of smaller fish in the tank the grouper may prey on them.

Did you know...

They can change sex! Yes, that's right like many other marine reef fish, Nassau groupers can change from being a female to a male fish. This occurs as they change from juveniles into adults.

Why are Nassau groupers endangered?

Nassau Groupers are classified as a Critically Endangered species. This is due primarily to overfishing. They are considered prize fish to catch and are expensive fish. This means they get a high price for fishermen and sell well commercially. Both commercial and recreational grouper fishing is a cause for concern.

What's more, grouper spawning (mating) is an unusual phenomenon that occurs annually in the wild. When thousands of fishes congregate together during spawning, it has made it a prime time for fishing boats to attempt to take many grouper fishes. Another reason is due to the ongoing reef destruction of the marine habitat in which they live.

Although some countries offer protection and prohibit their fishing, many countries have no such laws to protect Nassau grouper fishes. Even where seasonality rules are in place, some grouper fish are caught and then marketed for sale after the prohibited period ends. Another issue is the lack of enforcement officers in place across such large volumes of the ocean to monitor Nassau grouper fishing.

Another thing to consider is that grouper fish are home to many parasites. These include larval tapeworms and isopods. They can also attract nematodes to their ovaries. This causes a reduction in the number of eggs they can lay, furthermore reducing the population of this species. Although the impact of many of these parasites isn't known, groupers serve as cleaning stations around the reef. Many other shrimps and small fish will come and clean them and they remove isopods from the Groupers gills and mouth.

Nassau groupers and the Bahamas

Within the Bahamas, Nassau grouper fish are widely considered the most important commercial finfish species. Interestingly, the fish take their name from a city in the Bahamas, Nassau, as there are so many in the vicinity.

Before they get to their spawning site (often in the Bahamas), they swim in large groups of 25- 500. They congregate in large volumes for the annual spawning aggregations, making them an easy target for overfishing. As a result, in 1998, laws protecting the species came into force during the spawning season in the Bahamas. The fishing, capture, or sale of this species is strictly prohibited during the mating season. This is a conservation strategy designed to support Nassau groupers, ensuring future generations will also get to enjoy this fascinating species. Conservation work is very important to protect the grouper, as well as to protect the reefs.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish, including the convict cichlid, or the blue tang.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Nassau Grouper coloring pages.

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