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Darters Perches and Relatives: Percoidei

Nassau Grouper (epinephelus Striatus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Nassau groupers have a thick body with a sloping forehead and large fins. The third spine of the dorsal fin is the longest. The body is light brown in shallow water and pinkish brown or red in deeper water. There are dark and pale bands along the sides and the dorsal fin. A dark saddle on the upper part of the tail and dark spots around the eyes are present no matter what color the rest of the fish is. Nassau groupers grow to a length of about 47 inches (120 centimeters).

Nassau groupers can change colors, from light to dark, very rapidly. (Illustration by Emily Damstra. Reproduced by permission.)

Geographic range: Nassau groupers live in the western part of the Atlantic Ocean from Bermuda to northern Brazil.

Habitat: Adult Nassau groupers live in coral and rocky reefs. The young usually live in sea grass beds.

Diet: Nassau groupers mainly eat crabs and large mollusks.

Behavior and reproduction: Nassau groupers can change color rapidly, from dark to light shades. They usually live alone, although they may form groups for spawning. They ambush their prey. Nassau groupers can reproduce when they are four to eight years old and function first as a female and then as a male. They spawn in open water in large groups. The eggs and larvae float in open water.

Nassau groupers and people: Nassau groupers are important food and game fish. They can cause ciguatera in humans who eat this fish. They also are collected for large aquariums.

Conservation status: The World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists Nassau groupers as Endangered. Endangered means they are facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. ∎



Gilbert, Carter Rowell, and James D. Williams. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes: North America. New York: Knopf, 2002.

Nelson, Joseph S. Fishes of the World. 3rd ed. New York: Wiley, 1994.

Schultz, Ken. Ken Schultz's Field Guide to Freshwater Fish. New York: Wiley, 2004.

Schultz, Ken. Ken Schultz's Field Guide to Saltwater Fish. New York: Wiley, 2004.

Web sites:

"Lesson 1: Refraction at a Boundary—The Secret of the Archer Fish." The Physics Classroom. http://www.physicsclassroom.com/Class/refrn/U14L1f.html (accessed on October 26, 2004).

"Mahimahi (Coryphaena hippurus)." Oceans Alive. http://www.oceansalive.org/eat.cfm?subnav=fishpage&group=mahimahi (accessed on October 26, 2004).

"Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus)." Oceans Alive. http://www.oceansalive.org/eat.cfm?subnav=fishpage&fish=38 (accessed on October 26, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesDarters Perches and Relatives: Percoidei - Physical Characteristics, Conservation Status, Largemouth Bass (micropterus Salmoides): Species Accounts, Common Dolphinfish (coryphaena Hippurus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, BEHAVIOR AND