Bristol Aquarium has added a giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) to their coral seas display for the first time.
The giant grouper is currently a two-year-old female but is a protogynous hermaphrodite so will change sex to become a male in around three to five years when she reaches sexual maturity.
They grow around 15cm per year, (which is the same speed as our hair grows!), slowly reaching up to 2.7metres! She also changes colour as she matures, starting out with black and yellow stripes, to black white and grey markings to becoming more darkened as she gets older and turns male.
Joe Feasey-Kemp, Aquarist at Bristol Aquarium said: “Sheila (as she is commonly known to us) has lived with us back of house for 4months. We have been training her to respond to acoustic and visual targets to be fed and now she is fully trained we have put her onto display.
“We have all enjoyed getting to know her over the past few months, and are so proud to see her in the coral seas display – she looks so impressive! I’m looking forward to seeing her continue to change as she matures, they’re such fascinating creatures!” Joe added.
Giant grouper exploring her new home in the Coral Seas display at Bristol Aquarium
The Giant Grouper is from the Indo-Pacific and swims in warm, shallow waters. Initially living in mangroves when they’re younger, they move out to sea as they get bigger. It is one of the biggest bony fish that swim around coral reefs.
They are fully protected as their numbers are dwindling. Although there is insufficient data to officially classify their population stocks.
Bristol Aquarium’s coral seas display is a large, warm water tank holding 250,000 litres of salt water, home to hundreds of different tropical species. Along with the coral seas, Bristol Aquarium has whole host of other displays from around the world transporting visitors on an underwater journey.