The hogfish has laterally
flattened body that is high and round. The first
three dorsal fin spines are elongated and
thickened, and the tips of the dorsal and anal
fins are pointed. Overall coloration
depends on sex, age, and habitat, but generally
ranges from pearl white to mottled brownish-red.
Pectoral fins are yellow. Dark bars are located
on the outer margins of the soft dorsal, anal,
and caudal fins, and there is a dark maroon bar
on top of the snout. One very obvious
characteristic is the bright red iris.
Hogfish reach a maximum length of 3 feet and
weight of 22 pounds.
Hogfish are found in the western Atlantic
Ocean, from Bermuda and North Carolina, south
through the Caribbean Sea and northern Gulf of
Mexico, to the north coast of South America. They
live in shallow waters over open bottoms and
coral reefs down to 100 feet, and are most common
near shallow patch reefs just inshore and
offshore from the main reef structure, with a
preference for areas with abundant growths of
gorgonians (sea fans).
The hogfish uses its pig-like
snout and large protrusible mouth to root
around the bottom substrate for prey, hence its
common name. Adult hogfish feed mainly on
mollusks, including pelecypods, gastropods, and
scaphopods, but will also feed on hermit crabs,
amphipods, and sea urchins, crushing its prey
with strong pharyngeal jaws. Juvenile hogfish
thrive on a diet of crustaceans, mollusks, and
All hogfish begin their lives as females, but
dominant individuals can transform into fully
functional males. This often occurs at 3 years of
age and lengths of approximately 14 inches.
In waters off south Florida, peak spawning
occurs during the months of February and March.
Hogfish schools consist of groups of females
dominated by a larger male, referred to as a
harem. The male guards his harem, spawning
exclusively with the females within it. Spawning
occurs in later afternoon and early evening. Eggs
and sperm are released into the surrounding
water, where fertilization takes place. The
fertilized eggs rapidly develop into larvae,
hatching approximately 24 hours after
fertilization occurs. The larval stage lasts
several weeks until they grow into juveniles and
settle onto suitable habitat, usually around
Hogfish can live up to 11 years in the wild.
genus & species Lachnolaimus maximus
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