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Goliath Grouper

Goliath Grouper

Goliath Groupers are one of the largest reef fish in the world and they are quite inquisitive, so they are known to approach snorkelers and divers!


The Goliath Grouper is the largest grouper in the western Atlantic. Growing to lengths of 8.2 feet, this grouper can weigh as much as 800 pounds.


Males achieve sexual maturity at four to six years of age and lengths of 43-45 inches , females at six to seven years of age and 47-53 inches.


Goliath Groupers have a very interesting change in lifestyle: As they get older, they change from being a female to a male!


As groupers grow, they are first female when they reach sexual maturity. After a few years, the female will transform into a male. Scientists believe that this transformation is triggered when the grouper is the right age, they are in a group of animals that are about to spawn and there are fewer males in the population. Once this change happens, its permanent.


Goliath Groupers gather together in spawning groups once they are ready to mate. These groups vary in number, size, and location.


Once together, the females lay eggs that float to the surface after being fertilized. The eggs then float with ocean currents for 40 to 60 days and arrive at the nursery grounds just as the tiny groupers hatch out. These small groupers swim down to the bottom of the ocean and hide in sea grasses and mangroves until they get larger, remaining in the nursery area for 4 to 6 years.


Once they are large enough, the groupers then leave the nursery area and then move offshore to join adult populations in coral reefs.


Goliath Groupers rely on small cleaner fish to stay free of parasites and other itchy conditions. The small one-inch neon goby (look for the small black and neon blue stripes) is the fish for the job, removing loose scales and parasites from the skin and gills of the groupers. The groupers get clean while the gobies get a snack and protection.


Goliath Groupers may live much longer, perhaps as much as 50 years.


Goliath Groupers feed largely on crustaceans (in particular spiny lobsters, shrimps and crabs), fishes (including stingrays and parrotfishes), octopus, and young sea turtles. Prey is ambushed, caught with a quick rush and snap of the jaws. The sharp teeth are adapted for seizing prey and preventing escape although most prey is simply engulfed and swallowed whole.