|Humpback grouper, Cromileptes altivelis|
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. 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.
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.
Many species are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning they start out as females and change sex to male later in life. 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.
As other fish, serranids harbour parasites, including nematodes, cestodes, digeneans, 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.
Recent 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.
Timeline of genera
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- Cribb, T. H.; Bray, R. A.; Wright, T.; Pichelin, S. (2002). "The trematodes of groupers (Serranidae: Epinephelinae): knowledge, nature and evolution". Parasitology. 124: S23–S42. doi:10.1017/s0031182002001671.
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