Grouper fish is one of the most interesting and unusual marine life. To date, scientists have about a hundred species of groupers. Some of them are real giants weighing half a ton and up to three meters long. There are also species whose body size does not exceed several tens of centimeters. Different representatives of the species have not only different sizes, but also appearance and lifestyle. This fish is highly valued among gourmets due to its unusual, delicate taste and special aroma. In addition, its meat is practically devoid of calories and enriched with vitamins and minerals. The fish is found under the name mirou or black.
View origin and description
Grouper is divided into chordate type, class ray-finned fish, perch-like order, stone perch family, grouper genus.
The way of life, features of vital activity and stages of evolution of the stone perch have not been studied thoroughly enough. However, scientists and researchers have determined that these representatives of marine life appeared about five million years ago. The appearance of the Isthmus of Panama about 3 million years ago contributed to the division of fish into two subspecies due to the territorial division of the population.
In the process of adapting to new conditions of existence and in the process of evolution, the grouper learned to change the shape of the body and color in order to disguise itself and, in case of approaching danger, go unnoticed. Also, in the process of evolution, the shape and structure of the teeth have somewhat changed. They are arranged in several rows and are slightly reduced in comparison with the original size.
Scientists note that the grouper refers to those representatives of marine flora and fauna that have practically not changed since the moment they appeared. In the process of distribution, fish were divided into many subspecies, each of which acquired distinctive external features, characteristic features of behavior and lifestyle.
Appearance and features
Regardless of subspecies, size and region of habitat, all groupers are characterized by certain features that unite them .
Characteristic features of groupers:
- large, massive body, somewhat flattened laterally;
- gill covers with spikes;
- huge oral cavity;
- presence of one spiny fin on the surface of the back;
- presence of three spines on the anal fin;
- the teeth are short and very sharp, arranged in several rows.
This type of perch is called stone perch because of its resemblance to bottom boulders. This is explained not even by the huge size of the body, but by the specific coloration, which is very similar to rocks, stones and coral reefs. There are many dots, circles, stripes, etc. on the body of fish.
Fish also has a number of specific features that distinguish it from other representatives of marine flora and fauna.
- small, round eyes;
- huge, wide head, against which the eyes seem especially small and insignificant;
- practically All groupers are hermaphrodites. They have an ovary to produce eggs and a testis that produces the cells that fertilize them;
- body sizes can range from 10 centimeters to three meters.
An interesting fact: The fish is endowed with the ability to change the color and shape of the body in order to disguise.
The body weight of one adult depends on its size and ranges from 10-20 to 350-400 kilograms . The color can be very diverse, from bright, rich red to variegated, gray or brown. It depends on the region where the predator lives. The oral cavity is very large, slightly pushed forward. It is framed by skin growths that give the shape of pronounced lips.
Where does the grouper live?
The vast majority of grouper species live in marine waters. All of them are heat-loving fish and choose the waters of the tropics or subtropics. Only two of all described species are found on the territory of Russia.
Geographical regions of the grouper habitat:
- bay of the South African coast;
- Red Sea;
- Panama City coastline;
- Pacific Ocean;
- Indian Ocean;
- Atlantic Ocean;
- South coast of Japan;
- America coast;
- Hawaiian coast
Fish can live at various depths from 15 to 50 meters. An indispensable condition for the habitation of groupers is the relief of the bottom, which is necessary to provide shelters. These can be sea stones, boulders, thickets of coral reefs, sunken ships, deep caves, rocks, etc. They do not tolerate fish from regions with a sandy and excessively muddy bottom.
Fish of this species are not characterized by a tendency to migrate. They spend most of their lives in a certain area. In addition, they are very fierce about her protection of their habitat. They can easily and without hesitation enter into battle with rivals whose body size and strength can significantly exceed their own dimensions. Danger can also threaten a person if he gets too close to the shelter of a predator. A predator with lightning speed attacks with an open mouth from its shelter an object that poses a danger to it. Particularly large individuals can even swallow a person.
Now you know where the grouper fish is found. Let's find out what they eat.
What does a grouper eat?
Stone perch is a predatory fish. He is absolutely not picky about food and eats everything that he can swallow. The main condition is that the prey must fit in the mouth of a predator. The grouper is a real hunter. He can wait for his prey for a long time, being in shelter. When the prey is as close as possible, the predator simply attacks it with its mouth open.
If the prey turned out to be agile and fast, and the stone perch failed to catch it, it easily embarks on a long chase. A case is described when a huge representative of this species completely swallowed a one and a half meter shark, which fell off the hook of a fisherman. The predator pursued the shark for quite a long time, and when it broke, it instantly swallowed it. The stone perch with its wide-open mouth has a truly intimidating appearance. Therefore, individuals that are large in size pose a serious danger. Divers are advised not to get too close to them.
The grouper has one unique ability – he can hunt in alliance with the moray eel. When a predator feels that prey is not available to him, he calls for help from his companion. To do this, a huge predator approaches the shelter of the moray eel and shakes its head from side to side several times. Most often, the moray eel responds, and a joint hunt begins. The moray eel swims into the shelter where the victim hid and drives her out of there. In some cases, the stone perch partner does not mind eating herself.
In most cases, the grouper prefers to hunt on his own and not share with anyone. Rock perches have their own taste preferences.
What the grouper eats:
- clams ;
- small sea turtles.
Character and lifestyle features
The grouper is territorial. They live in the same territory for almost their entire lives, moreover, they do not tolerate the appearance of rivals or other inhabitants on it. They see rivals not only in people, or representatives of other species of marine flora and fauna, but also in their relatives. When the slightest danger appears, the predator swims out of its hiding place with its mouth open. However, it can cause serious injury. Attacks can continue repeatedly. Predators in the process of protecting their territory can fight rivals that are several times their size and power.
Groupers tend to spend most of their time in hiding. As such, predators most often choose coral reefs and sunken ships. The fish can leave the chosen shelter only when they need to set off in pursuit, or call the moray eel for help. In addition to moray eels, groupers often try to stay close to pelicans. Birds love to eat fish. Attacking schools of fish, they grab their prey. The fish, in turn, rush into the loose, and the grouper catches the individuals that have lagged behind the flock.
Despite the fact that predators are exclusively heat-loving fish and live in the salty waters of the ocean, there are exception species. They are found in fresh sea water. Groupers tend to develop a fairly high speed of movement – up to 25-30 km/h. This ability significantly increases the chance of a successful hunt.
Social Structure and Reproduction
Sexual maturity occurs at the age of 2-3 years. Reproduction occurs with the help of caviar. Fish lay it most often in their chosen shelters. After some time, they fertilize it, and subsequently many fry appear. They are quite viable. Their size and color range are very diverse depending on the subspecies and region of habitat.
Interesting fact: The marine predator is a hermaphrodite. This means that each adult has both an ovary for the production of eggs and a gland for the production of sperm. In this regard, one individual can produce caviar and fertilize it herself. All individuals after birth are considered females. However, when they reach sexual maturity, they become males.
It would seem that this is an ideal option for restoring the population and self-reproduction. However, after several generations, the genome degenerates, so fish of this species need to mix with other species.
The average life expectancy of a representative of this species of marine predators is 30-35 years. Life expectancy directly depends on the species and region of habitat. Giant individuals live in natural conditions for about 70-80 years. Small species that can be bred at home in an aquarium live no more than 10 years.
Natural enemies of groupers
Despite its power and fearlessness, stone perch does not belong to the category of top predators. Subspecies, which are especially large in size, have practically no enemies. Subspecies, which are characterized by smaller sizes, have quite a few enemies in natural habitats.
Natural enemies of fish:
- killer whales;
- moray eels;
The main enemies of the amazing representatives of marine flora and fauna is man. As a result of his activities, the number of fish has been rapidly declining for almost ten years. This is due to hunting them in huge numbers. Poachers caught them not only for the purpose of material gain or as a source of food, but simply for the sake of sporting interest. The caught predator was simply used to make a stuffed animal, which served as a decoration, or a trophy.
Fish are very sensitive to changes in temperature or other characteristics of the waters of the oceans. That is why the growing pollution has a detrimental effect on the populations of so many representatives of marine flora and fauna.
Population and species status
According to the analysis, scientists have found that over the past decade, the population of stone bass has declined by more than 80%. A number of reasons contribute to this.
The reasons for the decline in the number of fish:
- significant pollution of the waters of the oceans;
- impoverishment of flora and fauna, as a result of which the food supply is reduced base;
- significant changes in climate and weather conditions.
All these factors together had a significant impact on the number of predators. There is a decrease in the population and human activity. This is due to the increase in cost and growth in demand for young meat. It has incredibly tender and tasty meat, in which there are practically no calories. Also, an important advantage of predator meat is considered to be a high content of vitamins and minerals.
Another significant reason for the decline in the number of fish is the huge number of fishermen and poachers who hunt for the desired prey for profit or pleasure. Representatives of this species are especially vulnerable during the breeding season, when they gather in the mouths of rivers. During this period, they gather in huge numbers in these places, and the fishermen know it.
To date, stone perch is listed in the Red Book. In many regions where the predator lives, fishing and catching fish during the spawning season are prohibited at the legislative level. Violation of this law is punishable by a fine on an especially large scale, or imprisonment for various periods. Scientists note that the grouper population was seriously damaged, and it will take more than a dozen years to restore the strength of the population.
Back in the late 1990s, people tried to develop and implement a set of conservation measures aimed at restoring the population and increasing the number of individuals. In the United States of America, this marine life is included in the International List of Rare and Especially Valuable Species, in which it was given the status of “species on the verge of extinction.”
Many scientists believe that the best way to save marine predators from extinction – an increase in the number of nurseries in which stone perches can feel as comfortable as possible. Fish quite freely feel themselves in artificially created conditions. With optimal maintenance, the reproduction process becomes more productive, and life expectancy increases.
Grouper is a rare and very valuable marine life. Its meat is highly valued in the world of the food industry. Real culinary masterpieces are prepared from it. Fish meat is low in calories and has a large amount of vitamins and minerals. The main task of mankind is to preserve the species and increase its population.