Porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus) as seen in our Sea & Me exhibit.

This brilliant tropical fish is also known as the Atlantic Porkfish. It can be identified by its deep body, blunted snout and large lips. The coloring of the fish can change between juvenile and adult specimens. The bodies of younger fish are covered with bluish scales with two black strips running from approximately the edge of the eye to the base of the tail and along the top of the back. In adults, the black stripes run vertically through the eye and along the edge of the gill plate. Porkfish are active at night (nocturnal) and will generally feed in large schools. Their typical diet includes mollusks, crustaceans and echinoderms. When removed from the water, these fish grind together their teeth which make a distinct grunt-like noise. As a result, they are often referred to as a Paragrate grunt or simply a grunt.

Range & Habitat

Porkfish can be found throughout the western Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, from the Florida coastline south to Brazil. They congregate around reefs or over the rocky bottoms of inshore waters, reaching a depth of 6 to 65 feet (2 to 20 meters).

Conservation Status

Common. The Porkfish is popular species with amateur saltwater aquarists and SCUBA divers due to its brilliant colors and photogenic nature.