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Our Ocean Exhibit is home to some of the world’s most exciting marine creatures. Among the most fascinating inhabitants of our exhibit is the goliath grouper. Dive in with us as we explore the intriguing characteristics, habitat, diet, and some fun facts about this remarkable fish.

What is a goliath grouper?

The goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara) is the largest member of the grouper family. This behemoth fish known as the Atlantic goliath grouper, is a keystone species, which means that it plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance of its ecosystem.

These giants can grow over 2.4 metres long and weigh over 360 kilos. Their brown-yellow bodies are adorned with irregular vertical bars, making them quite distinctive along with their enormous size.

Where do goliath groupers live?

Goliath groupers typically inhabit shallower tropical waters, thriving in the Western Atlantic Ocean stretching from Florida to Brazil, including the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. They are often found near coral reefs, shipwrecks, and other underwater structures, which shelter them and offer them abundant food sources such as crustaceans, fish, octopuses, and sea turtles.

The mangrove forests provide vital protection and act as nurseries for young goliath groupers, offering protection and rich feeding grounds. As they mature and grow in size, these fish migrate to deeper waters, favouring coral reefs, rocky outcrops, and artificial structures like wrecks and oil rigs.

What do goliath groupers eat?

Goliath groupers have a diverse diet, feasting on smaller fish, crustaceans such as lobsters and crabs, octopuses, and even juvenile sea turtles.

They use their large mouths to create suction, allowing them to swallow their prey whole. This efficient feeding method makes them formidable predators in their habitat and allows them to be opportunistic feeders, often consuming whatever prey is most readily available in their environment.

Their diet can vary seasonally and regionally, but their ability to consume a wide range of organisms ensures that they remain well-fed. By having a diverse diet, goliath groupers help control the populations of various marine species, contributing to the overall health of the ecosystems that they inhabit.

Other fun facts about the goliath grouper

Ambush Predator

The goliath grouper is known as an ambush predator. As ambush predators, they patiently wait for their prey and use their large mouths to create a vacuum-like suction to entrap fish and swallow them whole.

Juvenile and adult habitat

While juvenile goliath groupers grow up in mangrove habitats, as adults grow to full size, they prefer the protection and resources of coral reefs and other large unnatural structures like shipwrecks.

Territorial behaviour

When threatened or surprised, goliath groupers can exhibit territorial behaviour. They open their large mouths wide, shake their bodies, and sometimes produce a loud booming sound using their swim bladder.

Spawning aggregations

Goliath groupers gather in large groups at specific locations to spawn, usually during a full moon. These groups can consist of more than 100 groupers of various sizes, creating a beautiful spectacle of underwater life.

You won’t want to miss the chance to see the goliath grouper up close at our Ocean Exhibit.

The exhibit features a magnificent goliath grouper, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to observe this incredible fish in a setting that mimics its natural habitat of the Atlantic Ocean.

Book your tickets now for Blue Planet Aquarium and see the goliath grouper in the flesh!

Type

Fish

What do they eat?

Smaller fish, crustaceans, octopuses and juvenile sea turtles

Size

Up to 2.5 metres and 360kg

Water Type

Shallower, tropical waters

Where are we?

Atlantic Ocean

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