Temporal range: Paleocene–present
Humpback grouper, Cromileptes altivelis
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Superfamily: Percoidea
Family: Serranidae
Swainson, 1839[1]

see text


Grammistidae Bleeker, 1857

The Serranidae are a large family of fishes belonging to the order Perciformes. The family contains about 450 species in 65 genera, including the sea basses and the groupers (subfamily Epinephelinae). Although many species are small, in some cases less than 10 cm (3.9 in), the giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) is one of the largest bony fishes in the world, growing to 2.7 m (8 ft 10 in) in length and 400 kg (880 lb) in weight.[2] Representatives of this group live in tropical and subtropical seas worldwide.


Many serranid species are brightly colored, and many of the larger species are caught commercially for food. They are usually found over reefs, in tropical to subtropical waters along the coasts. Serranids are generally robust in form, with large mouths and small spines on the gill coverings. They typically have several rows of sharp teeth, usually with a pair of particularly large, canine-like teeth projecting from the lower jaw.[3]

All serranids are carnivorous. Although some species, especially in the Anthiadinae subfamily, only feed on zooplankton, the majority feed on fish and crustaceans. They are typically ambush predators, hiding in cover on the reef and darting out to grab passing prey. Their bright colours are most likely a form of disruptive camouflage, similar to the stripes of a tiger.[3]

Many species are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning they start out as females and change sex to male later in life.[3] They produce large quantities of eggs and their larvae are planktonic, generally at the mercy of ocean currents until they are ready to settle into adult populations.

Like other fish, serranids harbour parasites, including nematodes, cestodes, digeneans,[4] monogeneans, isopods, and copepods. A study conducted in New Caledonia has shown that coral reef-associated serranids harbour about 10 species of parasites per fish species.[5]


A typical member of Anthiadinae, the sea goldie, is small, colorful, planktivorous and social.
Like many other large species in the Epinephelinae subfamily, the Nassau grouper is threatened by overfishing.
As indicated by its name, the skin of the six-striped soapfish produces a toxic mucus.

In recent times[when?], this family has been proposed to be split. The two hypothetical families emerging from the remains of the possibly-obsolete taxon are the families Epinephilidae and Anthiadidae. This taxonomic separation is recognized by some authorities[who?], including the IUCN.[6] Recent[when?] molecular classifications challenge the validity of the genera Cromileptes (sometimes spelled Chromileptes) and Anyperodon. Each of these two genera has a single species, which were included in the same clade as species of Epinephelus in a study based on five different genes.[7]

The subfamilies and genera are as follows:[8][9]


  1. ^ a b c d Richard van der Laan; William N. Eschmeyer & Ronald Fricke (2014). "Family-group names of Recent fishes". Zootaxa. 3882 (2): 001–230. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3882.1.1. PMID 25543675.
  2. ^ Froese, Rainer; Pauly, Daniel (eds.) (2016). "Epinephelus lanceolatus" in FishBase. October 2016 version.
  3. ^ a b c Randall, John E. (1998). Paxton, J.R.; Eschmeyer, W.N. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 195–199. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
  4. ^ Cribb, T. H.; Bray, R. A.; Wright, T.; Pichelin, S. (2002). "The trematodes of groupers (Serranidae: Epinephelinae): knowledge, nature and evolution". Parasitology. 124 (7): S23–S42. doi:10.1017/s0031182002001671. PMID 12396214. S2CID 12287737.
  5. ^ Justine, J.-L.; Beveridge, I.; Boxshall, G. A.; Bray, R. A.; Moravec, F.; Trilles, J.-P.; Whittington, I. D. (2010). "An annotated list of parasites (Isopoda, Copepoda, Monogenea, Digenea, Cestoda and Nematoda) collected in groupers (Serranidae, Epinephelinae) in New Caledonia emphasizes parasite biodiversity in coral reef fish". Folia Parasitologica. 57 (4): 237–262. doi:10.14411/fp.2010.032. PMID 21344838.
  6. ^ "IUCN red list taxonomies".
  7. ^ Schoelinck, C.; Hinsinger, D. D.; Dettaï, A.; Cruaud, C.; Justine, J.-L. (2014). "A phylogenetic re-analysis of groupers with applications for ciguatera fish poisoning". PLOS ONE. 9 (8): e98198. Bibcode:2014PLoSO...998198S. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098198. PMC 4122351. PMID 25093850.
  8. ^ Eschmeyer, William N.; Fricke, Ron & van der Laan, Richard (eds.). "Genera in the family Serranidae". Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  9. ^ J. S. Nelson; T. C. Grande; M. V. H. Wilson (2016). Fishes of the World (5th ed.). Wiley. pp. 446–448. ISBN 978-1-118-34233-6.
  10. ^ a b Anderson, W.D. Jr.; Heemstra, P.C. (2012). "Review of Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Anthiine Fishes (Teleostei: Perciformes: Serranidae), with Descriptions of Two New Genera". Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. 102 (2): 1–173.