Family Labridae, WRASSES
Description: body deep, strongly compressed; color varies, but never bi-colored; usually reddish, sometimes bright brick red; soft dorsal fin with a large dark spot at base; entire top of head nape purplish brown in lare males; this patch of color continuous with blackish area that extends along entire base of dorsal fin; large blackish crescent through base of caudal fin; pelvic fin with dusky tip; 14 spines in dorsal fin - first 3 elongate, bladelike; rays at front of soft dorsal and anal fins and lower lobes of caudal fin elongate; mouth very protrusible
Size: to 91 centimeters (3 feet)
The hogfish has a long, pig-like snout, and protrusible jaws with thick lips and strong canine teeth. The first three spines of the dorsal fin, as well as the upper and lower tips of the caudal fin, are extended into long filaments. Color is highly variable and changes with size. The scales on the back are often edged in yellow, and a dark spot is at the rear base of the dorsal fin. This spot disappears with age. Males possess a dark oblique band that covers the top portion of the head, extending to the tip of the snout. Juveniles are much lighter in color overall, usually of a pink or gray with white mottling along the sides.
Hogfish is most commonly found throughout the Caribbean, although its entire distribution is from North Carolina to Bermuda and the northern coast of South America. Usually hogfish are found in loose aggregations around hard bottom areas, such as coral reefs, rocky ledges and wrecks. The species is a protogynous hermaphrodite that spawns from September to April off the coast of Florida. The time of spawning in other areas is unknown. The smallest size at which females are capable of reproducing is about 8 inches, although most mature at a larger size. Like most reef fish species, hogfish are opportunistic feeders, eating whatever may be available from clams or urchins that can be crushed with their teeth to slow moving or sessile snails.
Remarks: esteemed as a food fish in some areas, but has been implicated in ciguatera; usually marketed as Hog Snapper.