Five protected brindle bass siblings welcomed

Recent arrivals at uShaka Sea World already have the animal care specialists wrapped around their little fins! Not only are they on the IUCN’s specially protected list, they are also beautiful, playful, inquisitive – and identical!

Known as brindle bass (Epinephelus lanceolatus), giant grouper or bumble bee grouper when young, the “fabulous five” as they are affectionately known, were cultured beyond the borders of South Africa and spent the first few months after arrival in the aquarium’s quarantine facility to ensure they were healthy and free of disease.

A juvenile brindle bass explores its new enclosure

In quarantine they not only received medical care but learned to compete with other fish for food, an essential ability for any fish being introduced into an exhibit where competition for food is the order of the day.

Brindle bass are ambush predators that lie in wait for a tasty meal to swim past and then they open their mouths and rapidly suck in their prey, swallowing it whole. In their new exhibit they need to adapt their natural feeding behaviour to take advantage of set feeding times. Being intelligent and highly inquisitive fish, they soon learned the rules.

Confident that the fabulous five were ready for their new adventure living among other rockcod, snapper and small sharks, they were released into the Predator Exhibit. Being non-aggressive fish with calm dispositions their introduction was without incident and they settled down and blended in very well.

Visitors to the Aquarium now stand in awe of these extraordinarily beautiful fish – many aware that, small as they are now, they grow to a tremendous size.

Juveniles measuring up to 90cm have irregular black-and-yellow markings, while adults are grey-green turning to grey-brown with faint mottling. All five brindle bass are presently females but will later change to males as they age – females in this instance are indeed the fairer sex.

Visitors standing between the Reef Predator exhibit and the Large Shark exhibit acquire a firsthand impression of how big the young brindle bass will grow when they compare longstanding residents Deon and Stanley – both adult brindle bass living among the large sharks – which are both well over 200kg each.

Due to the severe exploitation and the sensitive biology of the brindle bass, this fish is fully protected in South Africa and may not be caught, bought or sold.

Deon is a full-grown brindle bass of over 200kg

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