Physical description: Serranids are amongst the more unusual amongst the starfaring races, and their very existence has caused many an uproar in conventional circles regarding the requirements for sapient life. In appearance they most resemble particularly large cod or grouper crossed with lionfish, with elongated fins and long prehensile spines. Their homeworld is very dense with dissolved heavy metals, which they flush to their skin, lending them a variety of vibrant colours depending on their diets – primarily smaller marine life, though they can subsist on the micro-organisms that flood nutrient rich water. Though detailed communication seems impossible to most observers, in fact they employ a complex and intricate system of subtle body and fin movements, communicating the most difficult of ideas with nothing more than slow movements.
For a Serranid, reproduction is a casual thing and simply a fact of life – almost every Serranid has given birth at a young age, a byproduct of their fishlike natures. They spawn eggs by the hundred in carefully guarded chambers, where specially appointed guardians watch over them until hatching – Serranids have a notoriously high mortality rate in the egg, and few would risk losing any more potential fry through negligence. Still, despite the high mortality rate the combination of volume and birth during the early years of life has bestowed good birth rates upon the Serranids.
By the age of 15 most Serranids have exhausted their reproductive potential, and it is at this age that they are considered adults and take on professional roles in Serranid society. There is no known maximum life expectancy for a Serranid in good health, and in old age Serranids can grow to truly immense sizes – a quirk which led to their common name being given to them. A misnomer though it may be, it has stuck and the Serranids have no burning desire to change it.
Personality: It is difficult to simply categorise Serranids in terms of personality; indeed, it is difficult to fairly categorise any sapient race. Nevertheless, it is the Serranids' alien nature to many races which makes it hardest to speak to any particular trend they exhibit. Predatory in diet and aggressive in their pursuit of prey, they tend towards the energetic and are similarly aggressive in their pursuit of goals, whether it be knowledge, construction, or warfare. Older Serranids slow down, and tend to be more measured and level in their doings, no longer able to move so quickly from their bulk.
Still, as has been said, people cannot be generalised so easily, and one would not be hard pressed to find a youth possessed of the patience of the oldest elders or an elder exuberant and active despite their age.
Society: At a glance, Serranids exhibit a type of rule by strongest, with the largest examples of their kind ruling over their smaller cousins. In truth, however, Serranid governance is a curious variation on a gerontocracy. As Serranids continuously grow as they age, the biggest Serranids are almost without exception the oldest and unquestionably the most experienced – thus, they are elevated to positions of leadership to pass on their accumulated knowledge to the younger generations. However, the older generations are almost entirely unable to produce (or even closely examine) the precision devices required for most of their more advanced technology, and thus such roles are relegated to younger Serranids.
Serranid religion is completely homogeneous, and revolves around the worship of a messianic figure said to have uplifted them from savagery to their technological civilisation. It was said that a great fish descended from the surface, with a head as pale as dead coral, a body as orange as the brightest of coral fish, long fins the colour of seaweed, and a tuft of golden seaweed on its top. It swam like no other fish, splitting its tail to push against the water, and when it spoke all understood, regardless of school or species. The Great Uniter spoke to every one of the Serranids, breaking apart the barriers of language between them and unifying them against the Eternal Foe who kidnapped and ate the Serranids. When the Eternal Foe was driven from the oceans, the Great Uniter departed, leaving behind strange bright caves, smooth like a fish's scales but inedible like a rock. Inside was strange knowledge, written in the tongue of the Great Uniter. To this day the Serranids consider it the foundation of all their scientific knowledge, and one of their highest posts is that of an interpreter of the Great Uniter's teachings.