Size14 inches (36 cm)
DietInvertebrates, echinoderms, annelids, and crustaceans
RangeWestern Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea
HabitatShallow inshore waters over reefs and rocky bottoms
- Adults can grow to 14 inches (36 cm) in length and weigh 2 lbs. (1 kg).
- Porkfish are deep-bodied fish with a blunt snout, thick lips and a small mouth positioned low on the head.
- The 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.
Porkfish are named for the pig-like grunting sounds they make.
- Diet consists of a variety of invertebrates, such as mollusks, echinoderms, annelids, and crustaceans.
- Typically feeds at night.
- The 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, and is considered an introduced species in Bermuda.
- Found in shallow inshore waters over reefs and rocky bottoms at depths from 6-65 feet (2-20 m).
- Juveniles are common on seagrass beds.
- Pelagic egg layers: common in reef-dwelling fish. Pelagic spawners lay their eggs directly into the open water. The eggs of the porkfish are easily carried by ocean currents due to their small size and buoyancy.
- “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.
- 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 is relatively unafraid of divers and can often be closely approached.
- In Florida, porkfish drift in large inactive schools over reefs in the daytime and disperses to feed at night. They are usually found alone or in small groups throughout the rest of their range.