Also known as the giant grouper, the brown-spotted cod or the Queensland grouper, this jaw-dropping species is the world’s largest reef-dwelling bony fish. It is found throughout the Indo-Pacific region, up to depths of 100 metres. The brindle bass is unmistakable due to its enormous size, with the
largest confirmed specimen measuring 2.7 metres in length and an incredible 400 kg in weight. Adult brindle bass are mottled green-brown in colour, whilst the juvenile fish sport bold patches of white, black and yellow. This species is believed to have an eclectic diet that may include juvenile sharks and turtles. Sadly, it is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List due to drastic overfishing.
Also known as the dusky grouper, there are two separate subpopulations of yellowbelly rockcod – one in Africa and Europe, and the other in South America. This species lives on rocky reefs, at depths of up to 300 metres. They are
protogynous hermaphrodites, which means that individuals change from female to male once they reach a certain size. Yellowbelly rockcod grow up to 150 centimetres in length, and weigh up to 60 kilograms. It is thought that they can live for as long as 50 years. They are red-brown or grey on top, yellow-gold on their flanks and most have irregular white or pale yellow blotches. Yellowbelly rockcod populations are rapidly decreasing due to overfishing, and the species is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
The catface rockcod gets its name from two dark brown stripes on either side of its face, which look like whiskers. It is also known as the brown-spotted rockcod, and has a pale brown body with dark spots on its dorsal and caudal fins. It is found
exclusively off the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces in South Africa, and off the coast of southern Mozambique. Closely associated with shallow, rocky areas, tagging shows that this species usually spends its entire life on the same section of reef. The catface rockcod grows up to 87 centimetres in length, and feeds on smaller fish and crustaceans. Some are born male, while others transform from female to male later in life. Due to their limited range, they are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.
The tomato rockcod has many different names, including red rockcod, tomato grouper and tomato hind. It is a widespread species, and fairly common throughout the Indo-Pacific from South Africa to southern Australia.
It is found at depths of up to 100 metres, and prefers steep outer reef slopes with a rocky substrate. This species is often seen sheltering in coral caves that are also inhabited by cleaner shrimps. The tomato rockcod has a maximum recorded length of 57 centimetres, a red body with scattered whitish blotches and numerous orange-red spots on its head. It often appears darker to divers, due to the absence of the colour red underwater. It feeds primarily on small fish and crustaceans, and is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
The honeycomb rockcod has many names – including honeycomb grouper and dwarf-spotted grouper. It is found throughout the Indo-Pacific from South Africa to the Pitcairn Islands and is one of the region’s most common small grouper species. Although this
species has been recorded at depths of up to 50 metres, they are most commonly seen on shallow reefs of around 20 metres. In particular, juvenile honeycomb rockcod are associated with staghorn coral, which they use as shelter. This fish is completely covered in hexagonal shapes, all of them separated by a thin pale yellow line and arranged in irregular dark and pale brown vertical stripes. Honeycomb rockcod grow up to 26 centimetres in length, and change sex from female to male at around 3 to 5 years of age.
Also known as the striped-fin grouper, the striped-fin rockcod is found exclusively in Madagascar, southern Mozambique and South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. The Aliwal Shoal area represents the southernmost boundary of its range. It is rarely seen or
caught, and as such, little is known about this species. It is listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List, but experts believe it to be naturally rare. Striped-fin rockcod grow up to a metre in length, which indicates that the species is slow-growing and therefore susceptible to overfishing as well as habitat loss. Found at depths of between 20 and 50 metres, the striped-fin rockcod is red-brown in colour and covered in small dark red spots interspersed with irregular pale patches.