The red grouper, Epinephelus morio
, is a moderately sized, robust grouper that grows to approximately 125 cm (4.1 feet) and may weigh 23 kg (50.7 pounds) or more. Most, however, do not achieve this size.Body depth is less than head length. Eyes are large, and the nostrils are unequal in size, with the posterior pair slightly larger than the anterior pair. The preopercule has somewhat enlarged serrae present on the angle. The opercule has a straight upper edge and 3 flat spines, with the center spine being the most elongate. There are 15-16 gill rakers on the lower limb of gill arch. Scales are small and ctenoid, numbering 60-68 along the lateral line. The dorsal fin has 11 spines, the second of which is the longest. The soft dorsal has 16-17 soft rays. The interspinous membrane is not notched. The anal fin has 3 spines and 8-10 soft rays. The pelvic fins are shorter than the pectoral fins. The bases of soft dorsal and anal fins have scales and thicker skin. The caudal peducle lacks a saddle. The caudal fin is truncate. Body color is highly variable, but typical color is dark red to reddish brown, fading to pink or lighter red on the sides and ventral surface. Whitish spots and blotches are scattered over the body surface, with small black dots around the eyes. The dorsal, anal, and caudal fins all have dark outer margins. When resting, the color pattern may become banded, as occurs in the Nassau grouper, E. striatus
(Bohlke and Chaplin 1964; Fischer 1978).