• Size

    14 inches (36 cm)
  • Diet

    Invertebrates, such as mollusks, echinoderms, annelids, and crustaceans
  • Range

    Western Atlantic from Florida to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea
  • Habitat

    Shallow inshore waters over reefs and rocky bottoms

Physical Characteristics


  • Adults can grow to 14 inches (36 cm) in length and weigh 2 lbs. (900 gm).

Body Composition

  • Porkfish is a deep-bodied fish with a blunt snout, thick lips and a small mouth positioned low on the head.


  • Body is bright yellow-gold with two conspicuous black bars on the head and front part of the body. There are alternating blue and yellow stripes on the upper part of the body and whitish with yellow stripes below. The fins are yellow.
  • Young porkfish do not have black bars, but do have a large dark spot near the base of the caudal fin.


Animal Fact

The porkfish is named for the pig-like grunting sound it makes

Diet / Feeding


  • Diet consists a variety of invertebrates, such as mollusks, echinoderms, annelids, and crustaceans.


  • Feeds at night

Range / Habitat


  • Porkfish occurs in the Western Atlantic from Florida to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. It is abundant in Florida, especially the Florida Keys. It is considered an introduced species in Bermuda.


  • Found in shallow inshore waters over reefs and rocky bottoms at depths from 6 to 65 feet (2 – 20 m).
  • Juveniles are common on seagrass beds.

Reproduction & Growth


  • Mating is generally conducted by the supermale. It will find a specific place on the reef and chase off all other suitors and then mate with the large group of females that gather. This is useful for the species, but also somewhat detrimental as some fishermen are tracking the mating areas and times in order to pull in as many of the fish as possible.


  • After the wrasse becomes an adult, it is called an “initial phase” male or female. Those that were born male will always remain as an initial phase male and will never have a chance to be a dominant male. Adult females will sometimes change into males. These males and remaining females are also called initial phase wrasses, but some of the larger females will become “supermales.” This happens when a current supermale dies. The supermale is larger than all the other males and has distinct colors and patterns on its skin. This coloration attracts females to the supermale. Sex change in wrasses ensures there will be a male to reproduce with females.

Additional Information

  • Porkfish is a member of the grunt family (Haemulidae), which is characterized by the ability to make grunting sounds using its pharyngeal teeth and swim bladder.
  • Young porkfish can be reared in human care and is a popular aquarium fish as it removes ectoparasites from other fish.
  • This species relatively unafraid of divers and can often be closely approached.
  • In Florida, porkfish drifts in large inactive schools over reefs in the daytime and disperses to feed at night. It is usually found alone or in small groups throughout the rest of its range.
  • The porkfish is a good game fish for light tackle, but has been linked to ciguatera poisoning.


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