Family Labridae

Lachnolaimus maximus

Illustration and Copyright by Diane Rome Peebles
Illustrations are for viewing purposes only.

Description: 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.

Where found: 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.

Possession and Size Limits: 5 per person, 12” FL.

Federal Recreational Season: None

Size: Common to 50 pounds.

Remarks: 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.

Stock Status: According to a 2004 SEDAR 6 Stock Assessment, hogfish are are neither overfished, nor experiencing overfishing.  An assessment of hogfish is scheduled for completion in 2014.