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Family Taxonomy

The family Serranidae comprises about 75 genera and almost 530 described species in three subfamilies, Anthiinae, Epinephelinae and Serraninae (Nelson 2006; Wiley & Johnson 2010). Some workers have also elevated various tribes to subfamilies (Heemstra & Randall 1993; Eschmeyer & Fong 2012).

Thirty-seven genera and more than 145 species are known from Australian waters. The family includes three subfamilies Heemstra & Randall (1999) provided a key to species from the tropical western Pacific, including most of the tropical species from Australia.

Family Distribution

Serranids are found worldwide in tropical and temperate waters. Most species are marine, and some enter freshwater. They are predatory fishes, typically found around coral and rocky reefs. Some species are trawled over rubble or sand bottoms.

Family Size

Serranids range in size from 4 cm to almost 3 metres in length, and a weight of 400kg.

Family Feeding

Serranids are all carnivores, and although most feed mainly on fishes and crustaceans, some feed only on zooplankton.

Family Reproduction

Many species are hermaphroditic.

Family Commercial

Many serranid species are important and highly valued eating, recreational, commercial and aquaculture fishes throughout their range.

Larger tropical and subtropical species are also highly valued for SCUBA-dive tourism, and some species are sold in the aquarium industry.

A variety of techniques are used to commercially fish serranids during various stages of their life-history. Juveniles are captured with a range of nets, sodium cyanide, fish traps, and attractants such as lights, to be reared in the mariculture industry, especially throughout South-East Asia.

Larger fish, caught with hook and line, traps, gill nets and spearguns, are marketed fresh or chilled, or in the live fish trade. Most species are protogynous hermaphrodites, starting life as females and changing sex into males during their life cycle.

Serranids grow slowly, are long-lived, and aggregate to spawn, making them particularly vulnerable to over-fishing.

Family Conservation

More than 220 serranid species, including a number found in Australian waters are on the 2010 IUCN Red List of Threatened species IUCN Red List The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 includes a number of serranid species on the List of Marine Species that are protected in Commonwealth waters EPBC Act


Bray, D.J. 2018


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