Grouper fish are popular all over the world, especially in the United States, where they are found in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Florida coast, as well as in Hawaii. There are several different types of grouper fish, each with its own unique qualities and traits.
Some species grow to be fairly large, while others stay pretty small. Grouper fish can range from black to brown to gray to pink in color.
Perhaps no other fish is more popular than grouper. Despite their popularity, many people aren’t sure what kind of grouper they have or where it came from.
To avoid spending a lot of money on a fish you’re not sure about, learn all you can about grouper types before buying.
Different Types of Grouper Fish
It’s important to know where your fish came from and what you’re allowed to eat; some countries outlaw certain types of grouper, so be aware if yours is restricted or not.
Let’s take a look at the different types of grouper fish that you may find in the wild today.
One thing that makes black grouper distinct from other types of grouper is its coloring. The black grouper has a brownish-black body with white stripes and spots, a yellowfin tip, yellow anal and pectoral fins, and a white tail band.
Its coloration camouflages it from predators as it hangs out on rocky reefs between 30 to 160 feet deep.
The fish commonly known as grouper, and what you’ll most likely see on a restaurant menu is called Nassau grouper.
Named after Nassau, Bahamas, where it was first discovered by European sailors in 1795, Nassau grouper is a staple in Southern Florida and can also be found off South Carolina and Georgia.
This deep-water fish has been known to grow up to 800 pounds, but most adults fall between 50 and 200 pounds.
Because it’s quite valuable due to its taste and size (it’s considered one of the best-tasting varieties), fishing for Nassau grouper is tightly regulated in the US.
These large, dark-colored fish have orange and yellow lines running down their sides. They live in temperate, tropical, and subtropical waters around coral reefs and are found near continental coasts.
The yellowfin grouper (Epinephelus Lanceolatus) is one of three types of grouper with a yellow tint on its fins, body, and tail. It’s also known as red grouper because its coloration looks similar to that of a certain type of redfin grouper.
Other names for these fish include kingfish or butterfish because they taste good pan-fried whole or baked with only salt, pepper, flour, and an egg wash.
This species ranges from four to 15 pounds and is found primarily in waters south of Florida. It’s delicious, but it can only be sold whole.
The meaty flesh is deep red and has a firm texture. If you plan on keeping your gag grouper for cooking, make sure to buy one that’s fresh—the flesh will change color when it isn’t fresh anymore.
According to most chefs, frozen gag grouper doesn’t taste as good as fresh meat, but if it’s all you have access to, by all means, use it! Just like any seafood, it’s best to eat it within two days of purchasing.
This is one fish that you’re sure to remember. It can grow to be as big as 400 pounds, so it certainly lives up to its name. This giant is an ambush predator, feeding on fish and invertebrates such as squid and crustaceans.
In a debate of Warsaw grouper vs goliath grouper, the Goliath Grouper are the shallows’ rulers, and the Warsaw rule the deep.
Warsaw groupers have a maximum weight of about 600 pounds and a maximum height of well over 7 feet. Add to that they reside several hundred feet below the surface, where all fish taste fantastic, and they become a dream catch for many deep-diving aficionados.
The issue with Warsaw Grouper and other deep-water Groupers is their difficulty in being released alive. The shift in water pressure is sufficient to kill them, much more so as they try and battle their way up.
For the greatest chance of survival, you’ll need specialist gear and a skipper that’s well-versed in fishing for deep-water species.
You’ve likely encountered a red grouper before, as it is one of the most common types of fish around. Red grouper ranges in color from light brown to dark orange and has a pinkish hue when cooked, but its size and flavor vary based on diet.
Typically, these redfish are found near coastal areas in medium-warm temperatures over sandy bottoms. They weigh as much as 60 pounds (27 kilograms) and measure between 36 and 55 inches (91 to 140 centimeters). People typically catch red groupers by trolling or by trawling.
Their taste is similar to swordfish with a firm texture – and people often pair them with mustard sauce or fried onions.
The scamp grouper, scientific name Epinephelus Daemelii, is a species of fish found in shallow waters throughout much of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.
In Florida, it’s frequently found in grassy habitats including seagrass meadows as well as mangrove and hardwood habitats.
This is one type of grouper that can be kept on a recreational fishing license and is considered highly prized by seafood lovers.
Due to its limited range, you shouldn’t expect to find it at any grocery stores. But if you happen to catch one while you’re out fishing, your efforts will be greatly rewarded. The scamp grouper has white meat with a slightly sweet flavor.
The Speckled Hind has garnered a somewhat eclectic collection of nicknames including Strawberry Grouper, Kitty Mitchel, and Calico Grouper among others.
Whatever you name them, if you capture one of these fellas, you’re sure to turn heads. Half the boat will be envious of its appearance, while the rest will be attempting to decipher what you just pulled in.
Typically, the Speckled Hind live 200 to 400 feet below the surface, along a stony bottom. The fish grow in size as you go deeper.
These are a few of the most common types of grouper fish found in Florida and across the globe. We’ve attempted to include all the fish you’re likely to see when fishing in your favorite areas, but the sea is teeming with other species.
Who knows what you’re going to encounter during your next deep-sea fishing expedition? Have fun fishing!