The name jewfish can be used to describe two species of fish. One is the Atlantic Goliath grouper, which is found along most of the eastern seaboard of North America. It is a large fish that has become critically endangered. The second is the West Australian dhufish, which is a striped fish found in deep water off the coast of Australia. Both fish belong to separate families and are dissimilar in many features apart from name.
Of the two jewfish species, the Atlantic Goliath grouper, is probably the most well known. This fish, until recently, was officially known as the jewfish until its name was changed in 2001. Most people, however, still call it by its former name. The fish lives in and around coral regions off the coast of North America, as well as regions on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Atlantic Goliath grouper fish can grow to around 8 feet (2.5m) in size, and can weigh up to 680 pounds (approximately 300 kg). The fish are commonly caught for food; they are easy to catch using a spear as their size makes them relatively bold compared to other species. Goliath Groupers eat a mixture of other fish, turtles, and crustaceans.
Due to heavy overfishing of the Atlantic Goliath grouper, the species is now considered to be critically endangered. In many countries, including the U.S., the fish is protected, which has helped to increase its population. It is thought that it will be a number of years before the species returns to its former levels.
The West Australian dhufish, as the name suggests, is found off the coast of Australia. It is also commonly known as a jewfish as well as the pearl perch. The fish is most commonly seen in deep waters, although it is known to visit shallower waters during breeding season.
The fish is distinguishable by the dark stripes that cover the body. All specimens have stripes, but they fade as the fish gets older. The maximum size of the fish is about 48 inches (122 cm), so it is smaller than the other jewfish variety. Other features of the fish include a dark strip through the eye and a silver coloring over most of the body.
Similar to Atlantic Goliath grouper fish, the West Australian dhufish is hunted for food. The fish is often sold in fresh markets where it is popular. It isn’t, however, thought to be in danger of extinction at the current time.