The brindle bass is a large, robust fish with a rounded tail. The colour varies greatly with size. Individuals smaller than 10cm have contrasting yellow and black bands. Individuals less than 90cm are mottled grey with black and yellow bars and spots; larger fish are dull brown with yellowish fins, their yellow markings fade with age.
Scientific Name: Epinephelus lanceolatus
Common Names: Brindle bass, giant grouper
Size: Can grow to 2.7m and weigh 400kg (largest of all the rockcods)
The brindle bass is widespread throughout the Indo-Pacific region, but rare.
The brindle bass is a highly territorial species. Large individuals can be found in shallow, inshore waters. They are generally found in deep estuaries and harbours, coral and rocky reefs, wrecks and caves to a depth of 100m. JuvenileS are found in estuaries and the intertidal zone. Large individuals often have a “home” cave or wreck as a base in their territory.
It feeds on many species of fish, including small skates and sharks. It also feeds on crustaceans such as lobsters and crabs. Bass are ambush hunters which swallow their food whole.
This species is thought to mature at approximately 1.3m. Spawning is believed to occur in the summer months following spawning aggregations. Little is known about the reproductive biology of this species.
This is still a popular species in the live reef food-fish trade which is centered in SE Asia, particularly China. The brindle bass is considered to be delicious and highly valued. It is believed that the fish confers good luck and possesses medicinal value. Most of the fish used in this trade are juveniles that have not yet reached sexual maturity. Due to severe exploitation and the sensitive biology of the brindle bass it has been listed as protected in SA. According to IUCN it is also protected in Australia and India.
The brindle bass is fully protected in South Africa and may not be caught, bought or sold.
Red List (no sale species).
Van der Elst R. 1981. A Common Guide to the Sea Fishes of Southern Africa. Struik Nature. 398 pp.