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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 coral groupers. 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.

The word "grouper" comes from the word for the fish, most widely believed to be from the Portuguese name, garoupa. The origin of this name in Portuguese is believed to be from an indigenous South American language.

In New Zealand and Australia, the name for several species of Grouper is referred to as Groper, as the Epinephelus lanceolatus Queensland Groper. In the Middle East, the fish is known as Hammour, and is widely eaten, especially in the Gulf Region.

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 much tooth on the edges of their jaws, but they have heavy crushing tooth plates inside the pharynx. They habitually eat fish, octopus, crab, and lobster. 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 in order 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 their cave if they feel attacked and extend them in order to lock themselves in.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grouper

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