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Species: Mycteroperca microlepis, Gag grouper

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

grey-brown + dark mottling & wavy lines
eye: radiating dark lines
D & A: ends dark, white border, round
C dark, thin blue margin
preopercle notched

Mycteroperca microlepis (Goode & Bean, 1879)

Gag grouper

Body elongate, robust, compressed, depth at dorsal origin not greater than at anal origin; snout much longer than eye; in adult rear nostril much larger than front nostril; lower jaw projecting; rear of top jaw exposed when mouth closed, without accessory bone above it; teeth depressible; canines at front of jaws; preopercle serrated at lower corner, with a distinct notch above serrated corner; gill rakers 27-41; dorsal fin with XI spines, (3rd-4th spines largest), indented between spines, 16-18 rays, rear edge rounded; anal fin with III spines, 11-12 rays, lower rear edge rounded; tail fin straight in juvenile, slightly concave in adult; median fins without projecting rays; scales rough on side of body; 88-96 scales on lateral line.

Adult with a variety of patterns: (i) head and body grey-brown with dark marbling produced by indistinct wavy lines; dark lines radiating forwards and backwards from eye; outer 2/3 of soft dorsal, anal, tail fins and pelvic fins blackish, with a thin blue-white border; (ii) body with 5 dark saddles separated by whitish bars; (iii) large malespale grey with dark reticulations below soft dorsal; belly and lower part of body black, with this color sometimes extending onto tail base and snout and front of mouth; rear edges of fins dark; or tail may be white with a black margin.

Reaches 145 cm; IGFA record 36.5 kg.

Adults on reefs and grassy bottoms; juveniles in estuaries and seagrass beds.

Depth range: 0-167 m; adults usually in deeper water.

N Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico; also Brazil.

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  • Marine
  • Brackish
  • Inshore Only
  • Inshore
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Submerged vegetation
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Rocks
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Corals
  • Estuary
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • West Atlantic Endemic
  • All species.
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
Regional Endemism
  • GC non-endemic
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Also in Brazil
  • All species..
  • Continent
  • Continental primarily
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends South of GC
  • Island (s)
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Vulnerable
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 145
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 167