Grouper (Lapu Lapu) Culture

Grouper (Lapu-lapu)
(Epinephelus spp.)

Locally known as lapu-lapu, grouper has been cultured in ponds and cages in Southeast Asia for more than a decade. It is one of the most expensive fish in the market and is valued because of its texture and taste as well as its great potential in the aquaculture market. The demand for grouper in the international market is fast growing particularly in Hongkong, Japan, and Singapore.

In the country, grouper culture in cages have been successful in Pres. Carlos Garcia, Bohol. The Sto. Rosario Fishermen's Association of this municipality has established market links with buyers based near Cebu City. The Cagay Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Roxas City has also been successful in culturing grouper. Raising grouper is therefore another significant earner for the country.

Grouper Species

There are about 40 species of groupers distributed in tropical water and there are 2 species cultured commercially. These are:

1. Epinephelus coioides or Orange-spotted grouper - They have yellowish-brown dorsal body, shaded to whitish on the side of the belly, and they have numerous brownish orange or brownish-yellow spots unevenly scattered on head, body and fins. Whitish or creamy white chin or underside of the head and belly.

2. Epinephelus malabaricus or Black-spotted grouper - Body color is light brown on the upper part o the body, belly and ventral side light grey. The body has 5 distinct broad dark brown oblique bars which tend to bend. The head and the body with numerous small well-separated blackish spots on the chin. The fins are also has small black spots.

Source of Stock

At present, supply of grouper fry for commercial cage/pond production still depends on the wild. However, institutes like SEAFDEC/AQD and other progressive finfish hatchery operators are refining their broodstock and production techniques.

Grouper fry are collected in nominal quantities using various devices, eg scare lines or brush piles. The size of fry varies from 1-9 cm and is collected by fish traps from coastal waters near mangrove areas. In the Philippines, the major source of grouper fry are in the provinces of Pangasinan, Cavite, Mindoro, Quezon, Masbate, Bulacan, Cagayan, south Cotabato, and Negros Occidental.

Site Selection

The site should:

a. Be in calm water like sheltered lagoons, coves, islets, bay, behind an island or a river mouth. This is to avoid damage caused by strong winds, waves and current.
b. Have salinity ranging between 32-34 ppt
c. Have water depth not less than 3 meters during low tide.
d. Have good water exchange to maintain good water quality
e. Be relatively free from any source of pollution and protected from environmental hazards such as typhoons, floods, erosions, etc. It must be accessible but secured from vandals and poachers.

Cage Specification

A floating cage is usually composed of 4-12 compartments supported by a framework. Consider the following when putting up a cage:

1. Cage frame - made of bamboo and durable enough to withstand stress caused by wave action and increased weight during culture operation.
Cage dimensions - it should be 5m x 5m x 3m x 3m x 3m x 3m.
2. Maintain water column at 2.5m
3. Sinkers - Use small concrete blocks as sinkers suspended by ropes, placed at the bottom of the 4 corners of the cage for rigging.
4. Catwalks - Attach lumber to the framework to serve as walks.
5. Floaters - Use plastic drums as floaters on each side of the cage between the bamboo pipes. Tie the drum to the cage frame using a rope 5 mm in diameter to stop the drum from drifting, especially during strong wave actions.

Cage Netting

Nets are placed like an inverted mosquito net or hapa. Each cage is supported with polyethylene rope (5 mm) inserted along the sewed borders of the net and held using a clove hitch with overhand knot.

Each cage should have double-layered nets to avoid loss of stock due to tearing and other mechanical damage.


The rope length from the floater to the anchor should be the same as the water depth at high spring tide. The raft structure needs 14 concrete blocks (0.5 - 1 ton each) with 8 placed at the ebb end (ebb tide being stronger than flood tide), 4 at the flood end and 2 in the mid-section.


Groupers need a place to hide; unlike other fishes. To provide a place for groupers to hide, use sawed-off bamboo, 5 cm in diameter and 15 cm in length (for nursery cages) and 10 cm in diameter and 30 cm in length (for grow-out cages) tied in triangular bundles and suspended in strategic areas inside the net cages.

Nursery Cage Operation

Use nursery cage for fry 2-10 cm long. Stocking rate should be 60-100 fish per cubic meter. Feeds include shrimps and/or finely chopped trash fish given at the rate of 10% of the average body weight per day. Divide the feeds equally and give 2-4 times each day.

Install a 50-watt incandescent lamp (hover type) inside the cages, about 0.5 m above the waterline at night to attract live food like mysids, copepods, and other smaller fishes.

Grow-out Cage Operation

Use a grow-out cage to stock sizes of more than 10-15 cm in total length. Stocking rate should be 30-60 fishes per cubic meter. Give trash fish at the rate of 5 percent of the average body weight per day. Divide the feeds equally and give twice a day.


Take a few samples of the stock every 15 days to determine feed requirement and growth rate of grouper stock. Scoop out 10-15 samples and measure the weight and length of each sample. Always inspect the nets for tears. Remove dirt, debris, and fouling organism attached to the nets. Repair or replace damaged nets.

Health Management

It is recognized that many diseases in fish culture are often associated with stress. Stressed fish can easily be infected with disease-causing agents and this affects growth. The following tips may minimize stress on fish and prevent disease outbreaks:

1. Observe any unusual swimming behavior, especially during dawn or late afternoon. Fish gasping for air usually indicates low levels of dissolved oxygen. Should this happen, thin-out stocks by transferring some of them into another compartment.

2. Weak fish - those refusing to school with other fishes and those losing balance while swimming should be separated from healthy stocks immediately. Stocks found to have sudden loss of appetite and with red spot-like wounds on the skin and fins are likely to have a bacterial infection. Use a Povidone-iodine solution (eg. Betadine solution) at 15 parts per million for 5-10 minutes for 3 alternate days, as an effective treatment for bacterial infection. Methylene blue can also be used by swabbing. Transfer treated fish to a new compartment.

3. Maintain a distance of 1 meter between compartments to ensure easy and continuous water flow and maintain ideal water quality for the fish.


Starve the fish 24 hours before harvesting. Harvest depends on the demand of the local and export market.

Post Harvest

Scoop live marketable size groupers (400 g and up) from the cage. Hold grouper temporarily inside the conditioning tank and provide aeration for about 1-2 hours. Adjust water temperature gradually to 18 degrees Celsius by adding packed ice. Place 3-5 fish inside an oxygenated double-sheet plastic bag, with water at 3-5 cm or at least covering the nostrils of the fishes. Place crushed ice on top of plastic bags to maintain the water coolness during transport.

Place plastic bags inside the styrofoam with carton cover having a tag "live fish" and then ready for transport.

Before transporting harvested stocks a "freshwater dip", or short bath in freshwater for 2-10 minutes is advisable. The dip will not increase parasite infection and lessen the incidence of disease and mortality during transport.

Source:Grouper Culture in Floating Cages BFAR; Livelihood Options for Coastal Communities, IIRR and SMISLE Publication;; photo from


  1. actually it's not a comment is a question about harvesting. why should we starve the fish 24hours before harvesting???? salamat

  2. neng, i just saw your question today, hahaha. my answer to ur questions are speculations:

    1. they should be harvested as live, to make an honest weight I as guess, so you should starve them for a day.

    2. Most importantly, and this is the valid answer I guess, is because they are put in small plastics bags with air when delivered, and when their stomach is full, the fish vomit, consuming the remaining oxygen, clouding the water, which would cause death, resulting in being sold dead instead of live reducing the possible fecthing price by 80%.

  3. hi... i truly appreciate the information you've written. this is truly helpful... i am about to raise lapu-lapu as well in our province in samar. i'm sure you have helped me a lot. for now, i'm still gathering more information as to how can i effectively/properly raise lapu-lapu... reading what you've posted made me a bit confident. i hope you can help me more with these stuffs. thanks a lot...

  4. Mr. Marlon, i am malaysian chinese interested in what you are doing. i like to know more about your project. Please contact me.

  5. Marlon, you can also email me at ; if you questions.

  6. Hi thanks for the links. Im planning to start a lapu lapu farm but i dont have buyer yet. I hope you or someone can help me or refer me to a buyer. Pls. dont hesitate to email me ( or mobile number 09162731816


  7. Hi, thanks for the link. Im planning to have a lapu lapu farm but i dont have buyer yet. I hope you or someone can held me or refer me to a buyer, so i can start. Pls. dont hesitate to contact me 09162731816 or email me


  8. hi rhoda, if you are raising them in luzon, there are lots of live fish buyers - exporters in paranaque - better ask your fingerlings (small groupers) supplier for the buyers.

  9. hi, anyone here who are buyers of live grouper or who happens to know one? Our farm is at Surigao del norte. thanks... my cell number is 09084610863

  10. hi, anyone here wants to buy lapu-lapu fish pls do contact: 09178730891 and 09284970823. thank u

  11. hello i am interested in starting a lapulapu farm and to be honest i have no idea how to start this business, how much is the starting capital? where can i study this kind of business. thanks for the help.

  12. hi! i am also interested in lapu-lapu culture and hoping to get more information in starting this type of much the starting capital and other matters regarding this. thanks! anyone please???

  13. interest really arouse on that grouper culture,,could any one send me information regarding grouper culture,the way,process,techniques and where we can buy a fingerlings?im in visayas region,thanks,,,

  14. Hi,

    I'm interested to buy grouper fingerlings..any supplier please email--->


  15. where we can buy a fingerlings? im in quezon province.. any supplier located ncr? pls email me at

  16. mam / sir we are the original supplier of lapu-lapu (fingerlings and over sized) in northern Luzon (pangasinan) since 1984 we are the group of JUN ROSARIO LAPU-LAPU the bigest supplier of paranaque (tanong mo pa sa paranaque) for more informatioon please e-mail me at ( this is Engr Amador Rosario)

    1. Want`s live lapu lapu?.. Call 488-89-95 direct buyer only...

    2. sir magkano per piece ng lapulapu tiger fingerlings? thanks pls contact me 09196462709

    3. sir mag kano per piraso ng lapu lapu tiger fingerlings salamat pls contact me 09196462709

    4. Hi we are base in Palawan who is currently supplying buyers everywhere but i'm still looking for the right buyers whom we can work as a business partner... For those who wanted to know how to start their own grouper check this link out and it will surely give you a bit of idea how it looks like to have floating cage behind the island using net and plastic drums.

  17. I am in USA florida and I am interested in starting a grouper RAS system.
    Has anyone perfectet the growth of grouper in tanks rather than gulf nets,

  18. hello those from visayas area who need fingerlings, i can provide you as what your need is.. Feel free to contact me at 09052475180..thank you.. (jester)

  19. "actually it's not a comment is a question about harvesting. why should we starve the fish 24hours before harvesting???? "

    neng: the usual cause of death when transporting fish is low oxygen and nitrites poisoning. when fish are given food before packing, they will eventually give off waste which will transform increase nitrites in the water.

    You might also be interested in Koi breeding.

  20. I am collecting data and information for the culturing of grouper fingerlings (Lapu-lapu) in the very rich waters of Sabang, Palawan. The site is an ideal one, compatible for this project. I am inviting feedbacks, inputs, proposals for cage manufacturers, fingerlings suppliers, maufacturers of containers for transport; fingerlings from the wilds, prospective buyers from Malaysia, Brunei, Hongkong and even in the Philippines. Please email me at:; cellph: 0927-469-2687 (Philippines), Landline: 909-864-5690 (USA).

  21. We are grouper fingerlings supplier. our main species are tiger grouper, mouse grouper and hyrid larvae grouper. we have own fisheries/fish farm in indonesia. anyone interested in our products please contact us at
    Thank you.

  22. Hi Good day to everyone I am also intersted in this buss. I want to put up Lapu Lapu farm in Visayas if you have some info regarding how to put up or iether suppliers and buyer also please feel free to contact me at 09183337743 or email me at thank you very much..

  23. Hi, im interested in raising groupers in a tank and starts from fingerling..anyone can give me any info on the most suitable condition that can be provide to the me - thanks

  24. is there any sketch or drawing of the fish cage making, and cost of investment i.e. rate of return. Instead of working on this business better to invest by financing.
    a simple feasibility study with income statement would be appreciated much, for us entrepreneurs.
    Rene S. Cruz

  25. any sketch or drawing of the fish cage will be much appreciated. How much initial investment required and ROI, any body needing financing, would be glad to know.

  26. cherry garcia
    iam looking for the supplier of tiger grouper,brown suno good size only... red suno good size and over size maximum order 300 kilos..if you are interested pls call me globe 09156829356
    smart 09479769561

  27. i am looking for the supplier of tiger grouper,brown suno good size suno good size and oversize minimum order 300 kilos..
    any interested pls call me 09156829356

  28. i am looking for lapu lapu fingerlings (except green grouper)any interested pls call 09156829356


  29. Can Lapu Lapu be placed on Aquaponics

  30. Looking for buyers of Green Grouper(lapu-lapu)in philippines.. contact me at or 09228848812...

    Also interested in buying grouper fry/fingerlings.

  31. This is a very helpful site.. Thanks for sharing and more power..

  32. Looking for Buyer of lapu2x sizes ranging 450g-1kg.

  33. very fruitful info more power!

  34. I would suggest it would be more interesting if the author could provide pictures specially on technical aspects. ty

  35. Hi everyone! i've been this business 7 months ago, but don't have a buyer grouper raging 700g-1kg Bantayan island,,,interested pls. email me at


  36. am looking for alive green grouper buyer raging 700g-1kg in Bantayan island , interested pls. email me at


  37. How much is the price range of live grouper in the market?

  38. I don't know exactly the price in the market,,,I been already in the island of Bantayan to harvest of the rest of my grouper and it was worth of 430 per kg and still looking the higher price for the next run....

    1. For sale lapu lapu.. Direct buyer look for joey @ 488-89-95

    2. Lapu lapu for buyer only..look for joey @ 488-89-95

  39. Hi we are a lapu-lapu grouper base in Palawan... click this link to know more a bit about us. We will come anyone who is interested to know or learn how to start their live fish grouper... if you are interested visit my site and leave your comments... I will get back to you as soon as I can...

  40. Hi we are base in Palawan who is currently supplying buyers everywhere but i'm still looking for the right buyers whom we can work as a business partner... For those who wanted to know how to start their own grouper check this link out and it will surely give you a bit of idea how it looks like to have floating cage behind the island using net and plastic drums. We will welcome anyone buyers and investors...

  41. Good day

    im a buyer here in cebu and im looking for a supplier around visayas and mindanao for Lapu lapu Grouper fish and also other aquatic resources.

    our minimum order is ranging at 200kg, can you please help me find a supplier within visayas and northern mindanao

    Our order might be at 3 to 5 times a week

    and the fish will be flown on a private plane from the area going here in cebu and will be sold at some restaurants, resorts, and malls here in the city. and also for export

    For more info please contact us @ +63 922 855 557

    Thank you


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