Marine Ecology


December 9, 2011, 11:32 am
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Porkfish. Photo by Florent Charpin.

The porkfish (scientific name: Anisotremus virginicus) is a member of the grunt family (Family Haemulidae) that lives on coral reefs in the Western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea


caption Porkfish. Source: Florent Charpin/


Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
Phylum:--- Chordata
Class:------ Osteichthyes (Bony Fishes)
Order:-------- Perciformes
Family:-------- Haemulidae (Grunts)
Species:----------Anisotremus virginicus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Physical Description

Also known as the Atlantic porkfish, adults of this species range from 15 to 41 centimeters in length. Their thick bodies are silver with a number of yellow stripes on the back and mid-body.  Each individual exhibits two thick diagonal bands on its head. Juveniles have bright yellow heads, a black stripe running down their body, and a black spot on the tail.


In the Western Atlantic they are found from Bermuda and Florida through the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea to Brazil.


They live on reefs and rocky bottoms at depths from two to 20 meters.  

Feeding Behavior

Porkfish are carnivores that feed on mollusks, echinoderms, annelids, and crustaceans.  They hang around the reef during the day. At sunset, they travel to open water where they feed. They use their strong jaws to crush the exoskeletons of their prey. Juveniles may act as cleaners.


Because they feed at night, porkfish spend their days hiding under ledges or near the protection of the reef. 


Porkfish are pelagic spawners. Their larvae enter the planktonic stage before settling in nursery area such as shallow back reefs or sea grass beds. 


Juveniles of this taxon may act as cleaners.

Conservation Status

Porkfish are not considered to be a species at risk.

References and Further Reading

  • Encyclopedia of Life. Curator: C.Michael Hogan. 2011. Anisotremus virginicus (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Florida Museum of Natural History. 2010. Porkfish
  • P.Humann and N.Deloach (Editor) 1994. Reef Fish Identification: Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas. New World Publications, Inc. Jacksonville, FL. ISBN: 1878348078
  • N.Deloach. 1999. Reef Fish Behavior, Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas. New World Publications, Inc. Jacksonville, FL. ISBN: 1878348280


McGinley, M. (2011). Porkfish. Retrieved from


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