Goliath Grouper Fish: 10 Interesting Facts You Should Know

goliath grouper fish

Last updated on July 29th, 2022 at 02:05 pm

The goliath grouper fish, Epinephelus itajara, also called the lapu lapu fish, can be found in the warm waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as the Caribbean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The fish’s long lifespan allows it to grow to a large size – sometimes over 8 feet in length!

They are one of the largest saltwater fish species in the world, typically weighing up to 800 pounds. The goliath grouper lives in tropical and subtropical waters around the world and has an average lifespan of 10 to 30 years. The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies this species as near threatened, but many organizations are working hard to stop its decline in population numbers due to fishing practices.

Here are some other interesting facts about the goliath grouper fish.

Origin and descriptions

goliath grouper fish

The Goliath grouper fish is also known as lapu-lapu fish. The scientific name for a goliath grouper is Epinephelus itajara. It is commonly found in Brazil, French Guiana, Suriname, Venezuela, and Guyana. This type of species usually occurs in southern Florida where water temperatures are generally between 24-26 degrees Celsius during the summer season (May to September).

Over 80% of its body weight consists of muscles that are spread all over its body. Its head is long and pointed with small eyes. It has two very large dorsal fins placed close together near its tail fin. These fins help it swim fast underwater by making quick turns. Its color varies from dark brown to greenish-gray with black or white spots on its back, sides, and belly.

Species profile

goliath grouper fish

Goliath grouper fish belong to the family Serranidae. They are large, solitary, and carnivorous marine fish that inhabit coral reefs in tropical waters. The name goliath refers to their size; adult goliath groupers can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh as much as 800 pounds.

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A popular gamefish, they are considered endangered by both CITES and IUCN due to overfishing and habitat destruction. As one of the world’s largest fish, it’s no surprise that the Goliath grouper fish (Epinephelus itajara) is one of its oldest. These large marine fish can reach lengths of up to seven feet and weighs up to 800 pounds!

Goliath grouper scientific name

The scientific name of the Goliath grouper fish is Epinephelus itajara

Other names

Grouper fish are sometimes also referred to as the lapu lapu fish.


The goliath grouper fish is found in warm tropical and subtropical waters. Its habitat ranges from shallow coral reefs to muddy, silty estuaries. They are known to survive in water with a salinity of 37 parts per thousand, which is higher than that of saltwater; however, they prefer more salty environments. They may be found as deep as 240 feet below sea level.

Goliath grouper size

The goliath grouper size is around 98 inches (8.2 feet) in length when fully grown. The baby goliath grouper size can be up to 36 inches (3 feet) in length.

Goliath grouper weight

Adult goliath grouper weight can be as much as 363 kg (800 pounds).

What they eat

The goliath grouper is a scavenger, and mainly eats crustaceans, mollusks, octopus, fish, and carrion. Anything that sinks to a certain depth in seawater will be within its reach. And they’re definitely not picky eaters: They’ll eat anything they can fit into their mouths.

Goliath grouper lifespan

Compared to other fish, Goliath groupers live a relatively long time. Science predicts that they may live up to 100 years or even longer, but the maximum recorder age is 37 years.

Goliath grouper fish facts

goliath grouper fish

The adult has a dull appearance of Olive brown with faintly visible spots and bands. It is common for adult goliath groupers to remain in the same area for extended periods of time.

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As a result of complaints that the name was anti-Semitic, the American Fisheries Society changed the common English name of the species from jewfish to goliath grouper in 2001. Similar giant groupers (E. lanceolatus) occur in the Pacific and Indian ocean basins, which can reach 2.7 meters (8.8 feet) in length.

Here are the 10 facts you didn’t know about this fish

  1. The goliath grouper fish, Epinephelus itajara, can reach 8 feet in length and weigh over 1,000 pounds, making it the largest in the western hemisphere.
  2. 57 million eggs were found in the spawning aggregation of a 4.6-foot female.
  3. The spawning aggregations of goliath groupers can occur for a few weeks each year at specific times and locations.
  4. It is possible for individuals to travel 100 miles to spawn.
  5. A small goliath grouper (under 4 feet, or 5-6 years old) lives near mangroves; a large one lives near coral reefs.
  6. In Belize, forty percent of goliath grouper were found to have mercury levels exceeding U.S.-recommended limits for human consumption.
  7. They are tolerant of low oxygen levels and can live in brackish water.
  8. As with tree trunks, goliath grouper’s age can be determined by the growth rings within their dorsal fin rays.
  9. NOAA removed the Goliath grouper from the Species of Concern list in 2006, however, it remains a “no take” species in the U.S.
  10. The species was listed as critically endangered on the Red List of the World Conservation Union in 1994. Inshore mangrove habitat required by juveniles is being destroyed by overfishing and overexploitation.

Can a goliath grouper eats man?

goliath grouper fish

If they wanted to, they could eat a person! On the whole, fish are more threatened by humans than vice versa. Historically, people have fished for goliath groupers of both species. However, the Atlantic species has been listed as critically endangered since the 1990s.

Grouper may sound intimidating-and for most fish, they truly are! As for us, we have little need to fear them. People who are familiar with them refer to the fish as “gentle giants.” Still, it’s best to avoid fully grown goliath groupers.

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An 1895 article in The New York Times described how a fisherman caught a 1,500-pound grouper in the Gulf of Mexico. Only one of two children who jumped into the Florida Keys in the 1950s made it to the surface; the other child was believed to have been eaten by a Goliath grouper.

Can you eat goliath grouper fish?

Yes. You can find Goliath grouper on the menu in other countries, such as Cuba, so it is definitely a fish that can be eaten. It is not as tender as some fish, but it makes excellent fish stew and chowder, which is how the fish is often prepared.

There’s a good chance that the Goliath grouper’s meat will be too tough to eat raw, so it’s usually best cooked, or a bit of time in a pot or pan should be enough to tenderize the fish enough to eat.