The tiger grouper has a tapered, strong, and stout body commonly reaching up to 3.5 feet in length. They are often reddish, with vertical stripes on the sides which change angle from head to tail. Juveniles are generally yellow. Like most grouper species, the tiger grouper has a large mouth and big lips. Rear nostrils of adults are 3-5 times larger than front nostrils. Teeth are large and canines are well developed. Preopercle is withouta projecting bony lobe at corner. Soft dorsal and anal fins pointed, with middle rays elongated in large adults. Caudal fin is rounded in juveniles, truncate to emarginate in larger fish (60-80cm length). The most distinguishing characteristics from its other relatives are the vertical white tiger stripes that cover its body. The rest of the tiger grouper's body is reddish brown and they can also change their stripes. They can darken and lighten their body color dramatically which can make the tiger stripes hard to see.
They are one of the more commonly seen grouper species in the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Florida. They can often be found resting on the bottom or under coral heads or ledges with their gills and mouth flared open for cleaning. If they are on a cleaning station, their coloring may be bright red. It is a deepwater fish, widely distributed and seen fairly often in the Florida Keys
South Atlantic Federal Regulations
(For areas three-200 miles off the coasts of NC, SC, GA, and East Florida)
Note: Effective April 16, 2012, tiger grouper have been removed from the snapper grouper management complex and federal regulations are no longer in effect for this species. See Fishery Bulletin
State regulations may apply: