Many groupers are important food fish, and some of them are now farmed. Unlike most other fish species which are chilled or frozen, groupers are usually sold live in markets. Many species are popular fish for sea-angling. Some species are small enough to be kept in aquaria, though even the small species are inclined to grow rapidly.
A newspaper reported a 180 kg grouper being caught off the waters near Pulau Sembilan in the Straits of Malacca on Tuesday, 15 January 2008.
Shenzhen newspaper reported a 1.8-meter grouper swallowed a 1.0-meter whitetip reef shark at the Fuzhou Sea World aquarium.
In September 2010, a Costa Rican newspaper reported a 2.3-meter (7.5 feet) grouper in Cieneguita, Limón. The weight of the fish was 250 kg and it was lured using one kilogram of bait.
Species of grouper include:
Black grouper Mycteroperca bonaci
Comet grouper Epinephelus morrhua
Gag grouper Mycteroperca microlepis
Giant grouper Epinephelus lanceolatus
Goliath grouper Epinephelus itajara
Miniata grouper Cephalopholis miniata
Nassau grouper Epinephelus striatus
Saddletail grouper Epinephelus daemelii
Scamp grouper AKA Broomtail grouper Mycteroperca phenax
Tiger grouper Mycteroperca tigris
Warsaw grouper Epinephelus nigritus
White grouper Epinephelus aeneus
Yellowfin grouper Myceroperca venenosa
Groupers are teleosts, typically having a stout body and a large mouth. They are not built for long-distance fast swimming. They can be quite large, and lengths over a meter and weights up to 100 kg are not uncommon, though obviously in such a large group species vary considerably. They swallow prey rather than biting pieces off it. They do not have many teeth on the edges of their jaws, but they have heavy crushing tooth plates inside the pharynx. They habitually eat fish, octopuses, and crustaceans. They lie in wait, rather than chasing in open water. According to the film-maker Graham Ferreira, there is at least one record, from Mozambique, of a human being killed by one of these fish.
Their mouth and gills form a powerful sucking system that sucks their prey in from a distance. They also use their mouth to dig into sand to form their shelters under big rocks, jetting it out through their gills. Their gill muscles are so powerful that it is nearly impossible to pull them out of a cave if they feel attacked and extend those muscles to lock themselves in.
There is some research indicating that roving coral groupers (Plectropomus pessuliferus) sometimes cooperate with giant morays in hunting.
Groupers are fish of any of a number of genera in the subfamily Epinephelinae of the family Serranidae, in the order Perciformes.
Not all serranids are called groupers; the family also includes the sea basses. The common name grouper is usually given to fish in one of two large genera: Epinephelus and Mycteroperca. In addition, the species classified in the small genera Anyperidon, Cromileptes, Dermatolepis, Gracila, Saloptia and Triso are also called groupers. Fish classified in the genus Plectropomus are referred to as coralgroupers. These genera are all classified in the subfamily Epiphelinae. However, some of the hamlets (genus Alphestes), the hinds (genus Cephalopholis), the lyretails (genus Variola) and some other small genera (Gonioplectrus, Niphon, Paranthias) are also in this subfamily, and occasional species in other serranid genera have common names involving the word "grouper". Nonetheless, the word "groupers" on its own is usually taken as meaning the subfamily Epinephelinae.