There are many grouper species in the wild. In fact, more than 100 species of this fish exist. Some are common fish that can be found easily, while others are not that common. Snowy grouper is also known as golden grouper or brownie. It is a species of grouper that is vulnerable according to the IUCN list of endangered animals. This is a unique grouper species that is not that common but is eaten by people.
The Appearance of Snowy Grouper
If you want to encounter this fish in the wild, you should know what it looks like. This fish does not look like a lot of other groupers, as it is not very round and instead having a robust, compressed, oval body that is the deepest at the origin of the dorsal fin. Just like most other ray-finned grouper fish, this fish has a large mouth and wide eyes that are visible. Its lower jaw is also a little more extended than the upper jaw.
The color of the fish is dark brown with a black margin to the spiny part of the dorsal fin. When the fish is juvenile, it is also dark brown in color but has white spots arranged in vertical rows on the head and body, so it is easy to distinguish between the two ages. The tail of the fish is wide and almost transparent in color, or it seems rusty. The adult fish has a dark black margin on the spiny part of the dorsal fin that is useful for identifying this species of grouper.
The Size of Snowy Grouper
Unlike the goliath grouper, this grouper is not the largest in the ocean. It is of moderate size and stays that way for most of its life. Of course, the size depends on diet and other factors as well. The average size of the fish is around 30 inches to 38 inches, so it is still a pretty large fish. The snowy grouper fish can weigh around 20 to 30 pounds. It is said that the fish can grow to around 40 inches if it is taken care of properly and gets a proper diet. The largest ever snowy grouper caught weighed 66 pounds and was 48 inches long. Just like other grouper fishes, the snowy grouper has a long lifespan. This fish can live for 27 years or more. There are records of a fish with a lifespan of 29 years, as well. Moreover, the oldest caught snowy grouper was 35 years of age. In the water, due to the predators, it might not be able to live for this long, but this proves that if given the opportunity, it will live for a long time.
The Habitat of Snowy Grouper
This is a fish that is found in the western Atlantic and this includes Massachusetts south to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. There are also records of this fish appearing in Canada, so it goes north. This fish is mainly found around Bermuda. It is an ocean fish which inhabits deep saltwater, but it can sometimes be found in brackish water and freshwater for very short periods of time. When it comes to where the fish can be in these habitats where they occupy the rocky bottoms, usually at a very deep level. Both adults and juvenile fish occupy the same place, and they are found at a depth of 30 to 1300 feet, so there is a wide range, but these fish are mostly found in water 300 feet to 600 feet deep. You will have success locating them over reefs, corals, and other hard rocky bottoms. These fish are always offshore because they require deeper water. In addition to that, you will also locate these fish near wrecks, as they can hide in those places.
The Reproduction of Snowy Grouper
The snowy grouper, just like most other groupers, is a protogynous hermaphrodite to accommodate their breeding. This means that the fish is born as a female, but after maturing, it can turn into a male if it wants to. Grouper spawn in a harem with one male fish and a grouper of female fish. There is not much information about the mating rituals of this fish, but it is known that it exhibits courtship behavior near deep Oculina coral reefs. It is said that the fish give birth within the months of January to October, but there is also a record of them mostly giving birth from April to July. The number of eggs laid depends, of course, on the size of the female fish. However, on average, one female can lay around two million eggs at once. They all do not survive, as this fish is also cannibalistic, so it eats its own eggs.
The Purpose of Snowy Grouper
For humans, this fish is very useful. It is targeted for commercial fisheries in most places where it is found, and anglers also target this fish as a recreational sport where it is released after being caught. However, that is not all because this fish is eaten by humans. Since it is a rare fish that is not found everywhere, it is considered a delicacy and is not the cheapest fish that you can eat. When cooked properly, the fish has white, lean meat that is moist and flaky. Snowy grouper can be cooked in many ways. It can be fried, poached, steamed, grilled, and much more. In fact, it is one of the rare grouper fishes that can also be eaten raw in the form of sushi and other delicacies. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and low in calories.
The snowy grouper is a unique and rare species of grouper that has many purposes throughout its life. This fish does not get as large as other grouper fish, but this saltwater fish lives for a long time and is used by humans for sport and eating.