Grouper has a mild but distinct flavor, somewhere between bass and halibut. Red grouper is the most well-known grouper. Once the skin is removed from the fish, it’s hard to tell red grouper and black grouper apart. The raw meat of both is white and lean. When cooked, the meat stays white, and is very firm, moist, and flaky. Black grouper has firmer meat when it’s fresh. Red grouper is sweeter and milder than black grouper, and many consider red grouper the tastier of the two. Grouper is low in saturated fat. It is also a good source of vitamins B6 and B12, phosphorus, and potassium, and a very good source of protein and selenium. Groupers and sea basses belong to the Serranidae family, one of the largest and most widely distributed families of fish.
Prized for its availability, flavor, and size, red grouper is harvested in both commercial and recreational reef fish fisheries in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Grouper live a fairly long time and are protogynous hermaphrodites (changing gender from female to male), so they’re vulnerable to fishing pressure. Our fisheries for this species are managed to prevent overfishing and rebuild overfished populations. Red grouper feed on a wide variety of fish, octopus, and crustaceans, including shrimp, lobsters, and stomatopods. The same predators that eat snappers prey on smaller grouper, including jacks, other groupers, sharks, barracudas, and morays. Large sharks and large carnivorous marine mammals prey on adult red grouper.
Red grouper are found in the Western Atlantic from Massachusetts through the Gulf of Mexico and south to Brazil. Red grouper is a shallow-water grouper – they’re common in waters 10 to 40 feet deep. Juveniles prefer grass beds, rock formations, and reefs in shallow, nearshore waters. Red grouper move offshore from shallower reef environments as they mature. Adults are most commonly found around ledges, crevices, and caverns of rocky limestone reefs, and also near lower-profile, live-bottom areas. Adults may school or move together as groups, but only for short distances.