Hogfish (Lachnolaimus maximus)
Hogfish are protogynous hermaphrodites. This means that they are born as a female and upon reaching the age of around 3 years and a size of 14 inches they can fully transform into males through social dominance. The hogfish spawn externally and the eggs and early larvae are pelagic. The eggs develop into larvae rapidly and hatch within 24 hours. The hogfish will stay in this larval form for a few weeks before becoming a true juvenile. Juveniles will reside near sea grass until they get larger and they will move to coral reefs or sandy bottoms. They typically will eat mollusks, gastropods, and sea urchins, which is why they will reside near sandy bottoms. The natural predators of the hogfish are large boney fishes and sharks. Hogfish can reach a maximum length of 3 feet and a maximum weight of 22 pounds. Hogfish can live to be 11 years old. The hogfish have jaws with teeth that are capable of crushing the shells of mollusks and crustaceans. Hogfish are white with a black spot directly behind the dorsal fin. When they become males they will form a brown stripe from the anterior portion of the face to the beginning of the dorsal fin on the dorsal side of the face. The hogfish can also change colors fairly quick to camouflage itself. The first three spines on the dorsal fin are typically extended out further then the rest of the spines by quite a good bit. The hogfish has a laterally compressed body. The caudal fin is lunate and the tips of the dorsal and anal fins come to a point that extends out backwards.
The hogfish are listed as a vulnerable species. I saw hogfish at Looe Key and the coffins patch and pillars patch. Hogfish can be found in the Caribbean and in the northern Gulf of Mexico and can be found in the western Atlantic as far north as North Carolina and as far south as mid way through South America. Hogfish are sometimes referred to as hog snapper but they are in fact a part of the wrasse family and not a snapper.
In conclusion, the hogfish is a unique fish that has many distinctive features.