Other Names: Coral Grouper, Rock Cod
Identification & Biology: The Red grouper, as the name implies, has a reddish-brown body that shades to pink or red along its belly. The lining of its mouth is scarlet-orange; with blotches on sides in unorganized pattern; second spine of dorsal fin longer than others; pectoral fins longer than pelvic fins; squared off tail; margin of soft dorsal black with white at midfin; black dots around the eyes. Red grouper are easily recognized by their color and by the sloped, straight line of their spiny dorsal fin. Spawns in April and May; prefer water temperatures between 66 and 77 degrees F; undergoes sex reversal, young individual females becoming males as they age; lifespan of at least 25 years; feeds on squid, crustaceans, and fish. Red groupers usually ambush their prey and swallow it hole, preferring crabs, shrimp, lobster, octopus, squid and fish that live close to reefs. This fish may carry red-tide toxin. Usually solitary until spawning time, it grows to 4 feet (1.2 meters) in length and resides along rocky or muddy bottoms in warm waters (common to 15 pounds). *Florida Record: 39 lbs., 8 ozs.
Range & Habitat: bottom dwelling fish associated with hard bottom; juveniles OFFSHORE along with adults greater than 6 years old; fish from 1 to 6 years occupy NEARSHORE reefs. Red grouper (Epinephelus morio) is a shallow water grouper. Red grouper are distributed throughout the Gulf of Mexico primarily along the West Florida shelf and throughout the western Atlantic and Bermuda and the Caribbean. Adult red grouper have been fished from North Carolina to Brazil. The main sources of red grouper are Brazil and Cuba.
Capture Methods: Red grouper come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with hooks-and-lines. Additional types of fishing gear include pots and traps, cast nets, spears and trawls.
Market Description: the Red Groupers' meat is characterized as great seafood quality. Firm texture, white meat with large flake and a mild flavor. Extra lean fish. The large, white-flaked flesh contains no intramuscular bones. The skin is tough and strongly flavored and should be removed during cleaning.
Habitat: Mid Atlantic US/Gulf/Coastal South America
Availability: Year Round
Flavor Profile: Firm texture, small flake, lean mild flavor
Fishing Technique: Hook & line, long line
Special Note: of the smaller variety
Suitable Sub: other grouper variety
Recommended Preparation: Red Grouper lends itself well to any form of cooking. Because it is a lean fish, some basting is necessary while broiling or baking to keep the flesh moist. The heads are cartilaginous and produce a rich stock base.