Taxon profile


Brown Grouper
Epinephelus morio (Valenciennes, 1828)

kingdom Animalia - animals »  phylum Chordata - chordates »  class Actinopterygii - ray-finned fishes »  order Perciformes - perch-likes »  family Serranidae - sea basses and groupers »  genus Epinephelus

Scientific synonyms

Serranus morio Valenciennes, 1828
Serranus angustifrons Steindachner, 1864
Serranus erythrogaster DeKay, 1842
Serranus luridus Ranzani, 1842
Serranus remotus Poey, 1860

Other names

= Deer Grouper
= Hamlet
= Cherna De Vivero

Near Threatened NT


Body depth distinctly less than head length, depth contained 2.6 to 3.0 times in standard length (for fish 13 to 26 cm standard length). Head length contained 2.3 to 2.5 times in standard length; interorbital convex; preopercle subangular, the serrae at angle slightly enlarged; upper edge of operculum straight; nostrils subequal. Gill rakers 8 or 9 on upper limb and 15 or 16 on lower limb, total 23 to 25. Dorsal fin with XI spines and 16 or 17 rays, the membrane not incised between the spines and the second spine longest, giving the fin a triangular sail-like aspect; anal fin with III spines and 8 to 10 rays; pectoral-fin rays 16 to 18; caudal fin convex in fish less than 15 cm standard length, truncate or slightly concave in larger fish. Lateral-body scales ctenoid, with auxiliary scales; lateral-line scales 60 to 68; lateral-scale series 112 to 128.
Colour: Head and body dark reddish brown, shading to pink or reddish below; soft dorsal, caudal, and anal fins dark distally with a narrow white edge: a few dark dots on snout and/or cheeks; body often with irregular white spots-and/or large pale blotches.


Western Atlantic from North Carolina to southern Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and Bermuda; strays occur north to Massachusetts.


Moe (1969) has published a comprehensive study of the age, growth, and biology of this species in the Gulf of Mexico. Juveniles of 3 to 20 cm standard. length are occasionally found on shallow seagrass beds and inshore reefs. Larger juveniles (20 to 40 cm standard length) are commonly found in crevices and under ledges on rocky reef bottom in depths of 5 to 25 m. At 40 to 50 cm standard length and 4 to 6 years of age, females become mature and begin to migrate to deeper water (50 to 300 m) where they also occur over sandy or mud bottom. Most females transform to males between ages 7 and 14. Maximum age attained is at least 25 years. The von Bertalanffy growth equation Lt = 672( 1-e-0.179(t+0.449)) agrees well with empirical data and back calculations of body length. The weight/length function given by Bullock and Smith (1991) and based on Moe’s (1969) data is W = 5.42 x 10-8 L2.897 where W is weight in grammes and L is standard length in millimetre. The eastern Gulf of Mexico population spawns during April and May (Moe, 1969). Fecundity ranged from 312 000 to 5 735 700 eggs per female. Eggs are pelagic, less than 1.0 mm in diameter, contain a single oil droplet, and lack filaments or other appendages. At about 20 mm standard length, the pelagic postlarvae transform to the benthic juvenile stage. Adults feed on a wide variety of fishes and invertebrates. Red grouper are particularly susceptible to the toxin of red tide (Plychodiscus brevi) blooms, and in 1971 the species was exterminated on reefs in 12 to 15 m off Sarasota Florida (Bullock and Smith, 1991).


Attains at least 90 cm total length. As of 1990, the International Game Fish Association lists the all-tackle record for E. morio as 14.74 kg for a fish caught off Port Canaveral, Florida.


Serranus luridus Ranzani was listed as a synonym of E. adscensionis by Smith (1971), but neither the original description (Ranzani, 1842:20, no mention of dark spots) nor the illustration (pl. 8, fig. 1, showing a uniformly coloured fish with an emarginate caudal fin) fit E. adscensionis. Except for the slightly low dorsal-fin ray count (15) given by Ranzani, the description and illustration fit E. morio. The lack of spots or distinctive dark markings and the combination of truncate caudal fin, long second dorsal-fin spine, and the anal-fin count of 9 rays rule out all other western Atlantic species of Epinephelus. The pallid (“luridus”) condition of Ranzani’s fish was probably simply the result of its being a preserved specimen.


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1993, Heemstra, P.C.; Randall, J.E., FAO species catalogue. Vol. 16. Groupers of the world (Family Serranidae, Subfamily Epinephelinae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the grouper, rock cod, hind, coral grouper and lyretail species known to date.
Author: Petr Čech

Links and literature

CH DE EN FR IT NL PR SP FishBase [17]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/8497]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Epinephelus morio (Valenciennes, 1828)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [44681]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Epinephelus morio (Valenciennes, 1828)]
Data retrieved on: 3 August 2018
CZ Hanel L., Plíštil J., Novák J. (2011): České názvy živočichů V. Ryby a rybovití obratlovci (Pisces). 7. Paprskoploutví (Actinopterygii) Kostnatí (Neopterygii) [Ropušnicotvaří (Scorpaeniformes) – ostnoploutví (Perciformes) – Percoidei], Národní muzeum (zoologické oddělení), Praha, 148 str. [as Epinephelus morio (Valenciennes, 1828)]
Data retrieved on: 19 August 2019

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