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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Fin-tastic Facts About The Pigfish You Won't Believe

Pigfish facts are interesting to read

The pigfish (Orthopristis chrysoptera) is an oceanic fish, native to the Western Atlantic Ocean. They belong to the Haemulidae family and the Actinopterygii class. The primary habitat of this fish is the Nearctic zones of the Western Atlantic Ocean, but the range of this species also includes the north shore of Massachusetts, Florida, Bermuda, Cuba, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Gulf of Mexico. Due to their vast range and continuously being caught by humans in large quantities, it is next to impossible to get the exact statistics of their population, but they are listed as a Least Concern species by the International Union For Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List.

Pigfish have an oval body covered in bluish-gray scales and a silver-colored underbody. Their dorsal fins are similar to pinfish fins. They use the spawning method to reproduce, and their breeding season starts in spring. They are nocturnal predators that survive on a carnivorous diet. Their diet includes invertebrates, smaller fish, and crustaceans.

To learn more, we have collected a set of interesting facts about pigfish for you to read. You can also learn more about other fascinating wild animals and fish by reading about the toadfish and blobfish here on Kidadl!

Pigfish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a pigfish?

The pigfish (Orthopristis chrysoptera), is a popular saltwater baitfish, native to the Western Atlantic Ocean. They belong to the Orthopristis genus and the Haemulidae family and they are also known as the 'redmouth grunt'. Pigfish earned their name and popularity thanks to their ability to make grunt-like noises, similar to those made by pigs.

What class of animal does a pigfish belong to?

The pigfish species of fish belongs to the Actinopterygii class of the Animalia kingdom.

How many pigfish are there in the world?

Being an oceanic fish that is continuously caught by humans, it is extremely difficult to obtain an exact count of the pigfish population. On top of that, their vast range makes this already difficult job near impossible.

Where does a pigfish live?

Pigfish are native to the neritic zones of the Western Atlantic Ocean. This group of fish is spotted along the north shore of Massachusetts, Florida, Bermuda, Cuba, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Gulf of Mexico.

What is a pigfish's habitat?

Pigfish prefer neritic zones of the ocean. They primarily reside in bays and even in estuaries of the Western Atlantic Ocean. This species of fish prefers to swim at 3.3-65.7 ft (1-20 m) deep. Once in a while, they can be spotted in canals as well, where saltwater is still available. They don't cross the saltwater territory.

Another amazing fact about these fish is they are migratory and naturally can't stand severe cold temperatures. During periods of cold weather, they tend to move offshore to get to warmer water. However, they don't travel across long distances.

Who do pigfish live with?

Pigfish swim in large groups in the Nearctic zones. Not only adults but also juveniles form groups and they sometimes mix with groups of pinfish as well.

How long does a pigfish live?

The average lifespan of pigfish is three years. However, in ideal conditions, the lifespan can stretch up to four years as well.

How do they reproduce?

Similar to many other aquatic species, pigfish (Orthopristis chrysoptera) also use the spawning method in order to reproduce. The breeding season of this fish species begins in spring and dusk is considered as the ideal time for these fish to spawn. They prefer sheltered territories as their breeding area and their baby fish take around 48 hours to hatch out of their eggs. They hatch out of their eggs in the larvae state.

What is their conservation status?

The pigfish is listed as a Least Concern species by the International Union For Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List.

Pigfish Fun Facts

What do pigfish look like?

This fish shares two resemblances with pigs. Not only are the famous pigfish noises similar to the grunting of pigs, but their muzzles are similar in appearance as well. They have a pointed and sloping head and an oval-shaped body, covered with mottled scales. The scales of these fish are colored with a shade of grayish-blue, accompanied by yellowish bronze-colored spots. They also have similar-sized dorsal fins and anal fins.  

A Gulf pigfish is one of the most popular local baits used by professionals.

How cute are they?

Applying the word 'cute' to this species of fish may seem strange! However, their unusual coloring and shape certainly are appealing to some people.

How do they communicate?

Similar to most other species of fish, a pigfish (Orthopristis chrysoptera) communicates via sound, vibration, visuals, and body movements. This fish is known worldwide for the chattering and grunt-like sounds they make, created by the friction between their pharyngeal teeth and throat.

How big is a pigfish?

A pigfish typically grows between 8-12.5 in (20.3-31.7 cm) in length. However many ichthyologists have stated that in the right conditions they can grow up to 18 in (46 cm) as well. They are slightly bigger than blobfish.

How fast can a pigfish swim?

Pigfish prefer to swim in the neritic zones of the ocean, and they tend to swim to warmer waters during winter. However, the exact speed at which this fish swims is currently unknown.

How much does a pigfish weigh?

Depending on their diet, a pigfish typically weighs around 1.1-1.9 lb (500-900g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There is no particular name given to the male and female pigfish.

What would you call a baby pigfish?

A baby pigfish (Orthopristis chrysoptera) is called fry.

What do they eat?

The pigfish family follows a carnivorous diet plan. They are known as nocturnal predators and shrimp is said to be one of their favorite foods. Apart from that, this fish also devours marine worms, insect larvae, various types of mollusks, and small fish. Juvenile pigfish prefer to eat planktonic crustaceans.

Are they aggressive?

This fish is said to be gentle-natured, however, like other species of fish, they too may become aggressive when others enter into their territory.

Would they make a good pet?

A pigfish is not a great choice for your first pet fish. This fish lives best in the wild, from here it is commercially fished and put to a number of uses but it is not commonly kept as a pet fish.

Did you know...

Pigfish are often eaten by larger fish. This makes them a popular bait used by fishermen. Pigfish bait is favored by many fishermen, due to its easy availability and effectiveness. The black pigfish and Florida pigfish are both used as bait for bigger fish, such as spotted sea-trouts and more. On the other hand, shrimps are used as bait to catch pigfish. They can be easily caught around warmer waters near piers and docks. Hooks, seines, and traps are also used to catch them.

Pigfish meat is edible. Pigfish are cleaned by removing their entrails and scales. They are then cut into fillets and cooked. Hummus is a popular accompaniment that goes well with pigfish meat!

In Spain, this fish is known as 'corocoro burro'.

There are more other popular pigfish from different genera, such as the southern pigfish from the Congiopodus genus.

The name 'porpoise' literally means 'pigfish' and porpoises are marine fish from the Phocoenidae family.

What are pigfish often mistaken for?

A large number of people are often mistaken in identifying a pigfish as a pinfish. Both pinfish and pigfish have very similar names and similar shaped dorsal fins. However, when it comes to the biggest pigfish vs pinfish difference, it is important to note that the dorsal fin of the pinfish is smaller in size than the fin of a pigfish.

Where do pigfish get their name?

The famous pigfish grunt is known all over the world, due to its similarity with pigs' grunting. This pigfish sound is produced from the friction between their throat and pharyngeal teeth and the fish species received its name thanks to this similarity.

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 the tetra, or the neon tetra.

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

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