The Strawberry grouper (Cephalopholis spiloparaea) is also known as the Strawberry Hind, Orange Rock Cod, Calico Grouper and Orange-red Pigmy Grouper.
STRAWBERRY GROUPER APPEARANCE
The Strawberry grouper has a typical grouper shape and like many other groupers can lighten or darken its coloration depending on its mood. It’s typical colouration is a pinky colour with light pink blotches across the body. There are light pink spots below the mouth and smaller greenish blue colored spots on the face. The upper and lower caudal fin have a blue edge, this being a distinguishing feature.
As with all grouper they have a proportionally large mouth designed for swallowing their prey whole and they have a row of proportionally small teeth in the front of their mouth. They are one of the smaller grouper and their maximum size is 30 cm in length.
STRAWBERRY GROUPER IN THE WILD
In Tanzanian waters, the Strawberry Grouper is usually found below 15 meters in depth. They are not common but seem to be numerous in some areas, particularly the protected Marine parks. They are seldom seen outside these areas.
Strawberry Grouper are found on the East coast of Africa eastwards to the mid Pacific including most islands. They are typically found on deeper exposed reefs rather than in protected areas or estuaries. They are found from 15 meters downwards.
The main diet of Strawberry Grouper is small fishes and crustaceans, however given they are caught by fishermen on the hook this indicates that they will scavenge as well. They are ambush predators and feed in the early morning and late afternoon when their coloration gives them more camouflage. Red light is filtered out by the water after about 5 meters and their red colours provide good camouflage underwater.
Spawning behavior has been documented in the Mariana Islands and takes place from late afternoon to just after sunset between a single male and multiple females. The eggs are released into the substrate.
The Strawberry Grouper is fished commercially and in most areas of the Tanzanian coast is heavily over fished. If one dives in the Marine Park on Mafia Island there are noticeably far greater numbers of this species than outside the park.
STRAWBERRY GROUPER CLASSIFICATION
Heemstra, P.C. and J.E. Randall, 1993. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 16. Groupers of the world (family Serranidae, subfamily Epinephelinae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the grouper, rockcod, hind, coral grouper and lyretail species known to date. Rome: FAO. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(16):382 p. (Ref. 5222)