Epinephelus costae (Steindachner, 1878)
(syn. Epinephelus alexandrinus; common name: Gold blotch grouper)
Top photo: A juvenile E. costae runs for shelter in a cave. Bottom: An E. costae next to an Apogon imberbis while a Scorpaena lies in front of them (hidden in the red coralline rock). Both photos taken at a depth of 7 meters in the Saronic gulf. Click on the thumbnails to see the high resolution pictures. Photos by John Reclos /MCH (August 2005).
Distribution: Mediterranean Sea, Spain to Nigeria, Cape Verde islands.
Depth: Up to 300 m, but usually the animals are found between 5 and 70 m.
Common name: Gold blotch grouper
Size: from 50 cm to 100 cm, rarely to 140 cm.
Natural biotopes: Rocky habitats, deep water - an open water swimmer.
Artificial environment: They should need a tank with a volume of more than 2.000 l, with subdued light when young. When they reach adulthood even this tank size is too small so this fish is better left for huge public aquaria.
Temperature: 18° C to 22° C
Food: Octopi, crustaceans (crabs). The adults feed mainly with fishes.
Behavior: They become sexually matured ♀♀ when they are about 30 cm to 35 cm of length at the 4th year of their life.
General information: Probably one of the groupers best adaptable in captivity. They are quite attractive animals at every stage of their life. When young they show a grayish overall coloration with six purple horizontal stripes, forming small loose groups inshore, but they change as they grow larger than 40 cm (older than four years), they become ♀♀ and convert to golden yellow animals with fainted reddish horizontal stripes on the upper side of the lateral line. When the animals grow over 60 cm they change sex again and become ♂♂ and show a green golden blotch above the lateral line and behind the eye and up to the middle of the dorsal fin, while there is a relatively wide dark horizontal stripe along the lateral line to the upper base of the caudal.
Text and photos by Andreas Iliopoulos & John Reclos