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Meet Tater, the Potato Grouper  

The Tropical Reef Aquarium will reopen June 14, after extensive restoration and repair of critical animal-care structures, habitats, and life support systems. When guests walk back through the aquarium doors, they may not immediately notice those behind-the-scenes updates, but they will see new shark species, vibrant fish, and exciting new animals in a refreshed space. One of those new animals is Tater, a potato grouper.

Meet Tater

Tater, named by aquarium staff, is a juvenile potato grouper estimated to be 3 to 4 years old.

“Potato groupers are a marine ray-finned fish species and are large and highly charismatic,” said Cindy, an aquarist who works closely with Tater. “Tater was shy at first but has quickly warmed up to his keepers and loves to explore the Outer Reef habitat.”

Cindy said Tater is curious and watches the sharks during their feeds to see what they eat.

“He is very territorial, especially during cleaning time,” said Cindy.

Cindy refers to the cleaner wrasses, a fish found on coral reefs that eats parasites and dead tissue off larger fishes’ skin. The wrasses swim into Tater’s mouth and clean away.

“Tater knows that it is a mutualistic relationship where both species benefit from their interactions,” said Cindy. “That means he won’t eat the fish. Without them, he would get itchy and uncomfortable.”

If another fish or shark occasionally comes near him during cleaning, Tater will snap his jaws to make him look big and threatening.

At over 80 pounds, he is already one of the biggest fish in the aquarium. He eats one pound of food a day, about five times a week.

“He’s a picky eater,” said Cindy. “If he likes something, he’ll go after it. If he’s not interested, he’ll turn his head away.”

Cindy said Tater likes squid, bonito (a type of tuna), salmon, herring, croaker, and occasionally lobster.


Potato groupers get their name from their elongated spots like an oval, making people think they look like the shape of a potato. Tater’s spots are rounder. Look for him in the Outer Reef habitat of the Tropical Reef Aquarium.