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What Is Grouper?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 20 June 2014
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A grouper is any of a number of fish in the serranidae family and also includes sea bass. The name is believed to originate from the word "garoupa" which is a Portuguese word for fish. These fish have large mouths and stout bodies. Although the many species that fall under this term vary in size, some of them can grow to be quite large. Some can grow to be as much as three and a half feet (about one meter) long and more than 200 pounds (a little under 100 kilograms) in weight.

Grouper usually swallow their prey, which include octopus, crab, fish, and lobster, whole. This is possible because of their large mouths. As they do not chew their food, these fish have few teeth along the edges of their jaws. Their food is crushed by rigid plates that grow inside their throats.

The fish also uses its large mouth to dig into the sand where it lies in wait for its prey. Groupers are not fast, nimble swimmers, and they rely on sneak attacks to capture food. When they dig their lairs, sand jets out through their gills and is not ingested. The fish is often speckled, but the color and tone of its scales varies from species to species.

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Many species are classified as grouper including black, yellowfin, white, and gag grouper. Cooks and fishermen might also encounter the colorfully named comet, saddletail, or tiger grouper. Some species have names that relate to places or their sizes, including Warsaw, Nassau, miniata, and giant or goliath grouper.

The list of grouper species also includes the scamp grouper, which is also referred to as the broomtail grouper. Many of the species on this list are often used as a food source for humans. It can be purchased fresh from seafood markets as well as frozen. It can be imported but is also often farmed.

The flavor of this white-fleshed fish is mild and has been compared to the flavor of halibut and bass. It is commonly served in seafood restaurants, especially in coastal areas where it is caught. The taste of the fish can vary from species to species, but the variations are slight.

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