The largest grouper and a member of the Serranidae family, the goliath grouper is an important gamefish and an excellent food fish.
IdentificationThe goliath grouper is yellowish-brown to olive green or brown. Dark brown blotches and blackish spots mottle the entire body, including the head and the fins; these markings are variable and are more prominent on the young. Irregular dark bands run vertically along the sides, although these are usually obscure.
The body becomes darker with age, as the blotches and spots increase and become less noticeable in contrast to the body. The first dorsal fin is shorter than, and not separated from, the second dorsal ﬁn. The goliath grouper is differentiated from the giant sea bass by its dorsal ﬁn soft rays, of which it has 15 to 16; the giant sea bass has only 10.
Distinctive features also include very small eyes, a rounded tail ﬁn, and large rounded pectoral ﬁns. Specimens smaller than 11⁄2 feet long bear a strong resemblance to spotted cabrilla but can be distinguished by the number of dorsal spines, of which the goliath grouper has 11 and the spotted cabrilla 10.