13 Porkfish Facts You’ll Never Forget

Porkfish facts are amazing

A porkfish, having the species name Anisotremus virginicus or Sparus virginicus, is a marine water fish native to the Western Atlantic Ocean. The fish gets its name from the grunting noise that it makes which resembles the grunt of a pig. Like the common characteristics of all other grunts, they make these grunting sounds by grinding their pharyngeal teeth together. This sound is amplified by their swim bladder. The porkfish is the only fish of the Caribbean Sea that belongs to the family Haemulidae or the family of grunt. These Atlantic ocean species are also a common addition to saltwater aquariums in their range. They are popularly known by some other common names like sweetlips, dogfish, Atlantic porkfish, and paragrate grunt. In France, they are also sometimes identified as virgin grunts.  Numerous underwater marine surveys in places with rocky bottom containing coral reefs have recorded abundant porkfish, especially around Florida and the Caribbean coasts. They are found to occur in large numbers throughout artificial water bodies in the Gulf of Mexico and Flower Garden Banks. For gaining more information about the wonderful species of porkfish, keep on reading these facts.

For similar content check out toadfish facts and longhorn cowfish facts too.


Fact File

What do they prey on?

Crustaceans, annelids, worms, echinoderms, and mollusks

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

4-33 0z (113-930 g)

How long are they?

10-16 in (25.4-40.6 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Yellow with black bars

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

No threat

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Marine Environment


Western Atlantic Ocean





Scientific Name

Anisotremus virginicus





Porkfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Porkfish?

A porkfish known by the common name of Atlantic porkfish, or sweetlips, or paragrate grunt, or a dogfish is a type of fish found in the Western Atlantic Ocean.

What class of animal does a Porkfish belong to?

The species of porkfish belong to the class Actinopterygii, the common class for all ray-finned and bony fishes.

How many Porkfish are there in the world?

Porkfish species are present throughout their range in large numbers. The Atlantic porkfish has been recorded as the eighth-most abundant species by a marine state park of Brazil. They are also the 11th most common fish in waters adjacent to the Florida Keys. Juvenile porkfish mostly populate rocky tidepools and shallow inshore waters.

Where does a Porkfish live?

An Atlantic porkfish is a native species of the Western Atlantic ocean. In North America, they are found along the Atlantic coast of northeastern Florida. From there, its range extends into the Bahamas in the south and up to the Gulf of Mexico in the west. On the gulf coast, these fishes are distributed from the Florida Keys to New Port Richey of Florida and also in the Flower Garden Banks. The Mexican coasts act as their passages to the Caribbean Sea and South America. They are distributed throughout the coast of Rio de Janerio in Brazil and also found in Cuba. Some populations have also been introduced in the Bahamas. Apart from their natural range, the Atlantic porkfish are also popular as saltwater community tank fish.

What is a Porkfish's habitat?

The Atlantic porkfish species inhabit the tropical or subtropical shallow inshore waters of coastal areas. They occur at depths ranging between 6.6–65.6 ft (2-20 m). The adult fishes are found on the hard rocky bottom or over coral reef. Like most haemulids, the fish can also easily adapt to human-modified habitats like in harbors or under houseboats, or in an artificial reef. The juvenile porkfish is comfortable in tidepools or near seagrass beds. In captivity, the porkfish aquarium conditions must imitate the conditions of their natural habitat.

Who do Porkfish live with?

Porkfish are generally schooling fish that swim in large schools of their own type and also with other grunts like the white grunts. However, these fishes are free swimmers and might turn aggressive if kept in a small aquarium with many similar species without much open space.

How long does a Porkfish live?

The lifespan of a porkfish has not been determined.

How do they reproduce?

Female Atlantic porkfish are capable of changing their sex. Mating is mainly conducted by the supermale of the school. A supermale is a large fish that was actually born as a female but changed its sex with age. The supermale chooses a particular spot on the reef and mates there with  a group of several females. Supermales have distinct body colors and patterns that attract females towards them.

What is their conservation status?

Porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus) of the grunt family have been classified as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. Their classification is justified by their large population throughout the range. Due to less variation in their habitat, no significant changes are noted in the population trend of this grunt species.    

Porkfish Fun Facts

What do Porkfish look like?

Porkfish is a nocturnal reef fish.

Porkfish are deep-bodied fishes similar to the burrito grunt with thick fleshy lips and a small head. A blunt mouth is present at the lower portion of its head with well-equipped teeth set. Both the head and the fins are bright yellow in color while pale yellow stripes run throughout the body. The upper part of the body has alternating blue and yellow stripes while the lower part is whitish with yellow stripes. There are two black bars located at the anterior part of the body. One runs diagonally over the eyes ending around the snout and the other vertical bar runs from the front of the dorsal fin to the base of the pectoral fin. Juveniles lack the black bars but they have two black stripes on the body with a black spot on the caudal ending. The anal fin and the dorsal fin of these bony fishes are made up of rays and spines.  

How cute are they?

Porkfish are wonderfully colored fish of the marine environment. Their small size and solid yellow body attract people towards it and many find the fish cute.

How do they communicate?

Porkfish can make a grunting noise by grinding their teeth and using their swim bladder like all other grunts. When they become aggressive, they open their mouth and show the red interiors to alarm others.

How big is a Porkfish?

The length of an Atlantic porkfish varies between 10-16 in (25.4-40.6 cm). They are 10 times bigger in size than a goldfish.

How fast can a Porkfish move?

Porkfish are a great fan of swimming. They need large free spaces to swim but unfortunately, their speed is unknown.

How much does a Porkfish weigh?

The maximum weight that an Atlantic porkfish can attain is 33 0z (930 g) but their average weight is 4 0z (113 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male and the female species do not have any specific names. Both of them are known as porkfish.

What would you call a baby Porkfish?

A baby or a juvenile porkfish is called a fry.

What do they eat?

The diet of these grunts mainly consists of invertebrate animals like crustaceans, annelids, worms, echinoderms, and mollusks.

Are they poisonous?

Although they are edible, the species of porkfish are known for causing ciguatera poisoning.

Would they make a good pet?

The young porkfish is a great choice as aquarium fish. These small-sized fish are less aggressive than their adult counterparts and also helps in maintaining a healthy environment in the aquarium for other animals.

Did you know...

Juvenile porkfish are said to be cleaners. They help in removing external parasites of other species.

Can you eat Porkfish?

Edible small porkfish is one of the tastiest fishes in their range. Their meat is very easy to cook and with perfect recipes, they taste better than any other grunt. However, they have lower myoglobin than red meat like pork.

Porkfish speciation

Allopatric speciation or formation of new species from an existing one is observed in two types of porkfish, the Anisotremus virginicus found in the Pacific Ocean and the  A. taeniatus found in the Caribbean.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including skate fish facts and fangtooth fish facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our porkfish coloring pages.



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