Yellowfin Grouper (Mycteroperca venenosa)

Yellowfin Grouper (Mycteroperca venenosa)

The scientific name of this member of the Serranidae family means “venomous,” a reference to the yellowfin grouper’s association with ciguatera poisoning. Despite this, its flesh is good to eat and is usually considered safe for commercial sale.


The yellowfin grouper has highly variable coloring, usually with a pale background and horizontal rows of darker, rectangular blotches covering the entire fish; the ends of these blotches are rounded, and they can be black, gray, brown, olive green, or red.

There are also small dark spots running across the body, which grow smaller toward the belly and usually appear bright red. The outer third of the pectoral fins is bright yellow, whereas the tail has a thin, dark, irregular edge. An overall reddish cast is present in fish from deep water, and the yellowfin grouper has the ability to change color dramatically or to pale or darken.


The yellowfin grouper is common to 20 pounds in weight and 3 feet in length; the all-tackle world record is a 40-pound, 12-ounce Texas fish caught in 1995.

Life history

As with other grouper, the yellowfin undergoes a sex reversal, transforming from female to male in the latter part of life.


Yellowfin grouper feed mostly on coral reef species of fish and squid.

Other Names

princess rockfish, red rockfish; Spanish: arigua, bonaci cardenal, cuna cucaracha, cuna de piedra.


Found in the western Atlantic, the yellowfin grouper is most common in Bermuda, Florida, and the southern Gulf of Mexico, and it ranges to Brazil.


Young yellowfin grouper prefer shallow turtlegrass beds, and adults occur on offshore rocky and coral reefs. They also hold over mud bottoms in the northern Gulf of Mexico.