The Hogfish (Lachnolaimus maximus) is a bottom-feeding member of the Wrasse family. It gets its name from its long pig-like snout/mouth, which it uses as a shovel when searching for food.
HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION
The hogfish inhabits the western Atlantic, from Nova Scotia to the northern waters of South America (including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean), its preferred habitat is around reefs and gorgonian corals.
The hogfish has a flattened body (compared to other wrasse species) and possess an elongated snout. The dorsal (back) fin is made up of many small spines preceded by 3-4 rather long spines. The hogfish colour varies according to sex, age and environment, the main colour is a creamy-white base with reddish mottled markings. The snout is usually darker (more brown in colour), and is very prominent in some individuals, and the eyes are red. In young hogfish they are more of a uniform grey or brown colour as can be seen in the photos shown here. It can grow to 90cm in length.
DIET, BEHAVIOUR AND REPRODUCTION
Hogfish are protogynous hermaphrodites, this means their sexual state is that of a female to begin with, but as they mature (at around 3 years old) they become male. The hogfish has a maximum life expectancy of around 10 years, although a study by McBride and Richardson in 2007 found that individuals in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico had a maximum age of 23 years! Using its pig-like snout it searches for molluscs, crustaceans, and other small animals along the sea floor.
The hogfish is listed by the IUCN as Vulnerable, due to over fishing (where it is marketed as the 'Hog Snapper'), and destruction of its coral reef habitat. Florida saw a 60% reduction in numbers over a 14 year span.