Fun Tomtate Facts For Kids

Shirin Biswas
Oct 20, 2022 By Shirin Biswas
Originally Published on Sep 01, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Here are some tomtate facts that will tell you all about the tomtate fish family, order and much more!
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.9 Min

The tomtate fish is a coastal species that is usually found around the coasts of USA, especially Florida, the Western Atlantic and the Eastern Pacific.

This member of the genus haemulon is easily recognized through its silvery or whitish gray color, a yellow-brown stripe that runs horizontally throughout the body, and a black spot at the base of the anal fin.

This fish species prefers the range of habitat that contains coral reefs, since its diet is based mainly around planktons and algae. The occasional small invertebrate is a delicacy for the species. If you happen to ever look inside the mouth of this fish, you will be surprised to see that it is bright red in color!

These small fishes are often used as baits, and are also consumed in parts of Mexico, where these fishes are commonly caught and sold. If you are a fishing enthusiast in America, chances are that you have already heard of these fishes, but do read ahead to know more about the tomtate fishes!

For more relatable content, check out these midas blenny facts and severum facts for kids.

Tomtate Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a tomtate?

The tomtate is a fish from the family of grunts.

What class of animal does a tomtate belong to?

The scientific term for the class that tomtates belong to is that of Actinopterygii, however, we lovingly classify them simply as birds.

How many tomtates are there in the world?

Unfortunately, not much data is available regarding the exact population size of this fish species, however, their conservation status does imply that the population is quite stable and that we may expect these fishes to be around for quite some time.

Where does a tomtate live?

Tomtates are found in coastal regions, at the depths of about 98.4 ft (30 m), since they are bottom-dwellers. They prefer to live around coral reef, and areas with a lot of plankton and algae to feed on.

What is a tomtate's habitat?

The tomtate fish habitat range is found in coasts around the USA, especially near Florida. They are also found near the Eastern Pacific ocean, Western Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. As you can tell, the tomtate range is quite extensive.

Who do tomtates live with?

Tomtate grunts are mostly found in large schools, especially when they sense that a predator might be around. Usually, spotting a tomtate grunt school symbolizes the arrival of predatory marine creatures to fishermen.

How long does a tomtate live?

The average lifespan of the tomtate grunts species is about nine years.

How do they reproduce?

While the exact number of eggs that this fish species lays in each breeding season is not known, we do know that the tomtates are viviparous animals - which means that they reproduce by laying eggs.

The exact breeding seasons and behavior patterns of the male and female tomtate fishes are also not known due to insufficient research in the field.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN Red List, the conservation status of the tomtate (Haemulon aurolineatum) is that of Least Concern, which means that the population size of the tomtate grunt fish species is stable and that their habitat is not facing the threat of degradation in the near future.

Tomtate Fun Facts

What do tomtates look like?

This fish species has a set of features that are fairly easy to spot. The body of this fish species is of a whitish-gray color, and a yellow-brown stripe runs horizontally across.

At the base of the anal fin, there is a black colored spot that makes identification simpler. These Atlantic fishes also have a gill on either side of the head and yellow pelvic fins, which are quite prominent.

Larger tomtates (Haemulon aurolineatum) are usually more aggressive.

How cute are they?

While these fishes (Haemulon aurolineatum) may not be very cute to the fishermen who use tomtate as bait, or the locals of the areas where the species is common, we do think that these fishes are impeccably cute. The small fins and the overall tomtate size does paint a very beautiful picture to us.

The tomtate juvenile looks especially adorable to us, as we are sure, it must look to you as well!

Interestingly, the mouth of this species is bright red from the inside!

How do they communicate?

While the exact mode of communication used by these fishes from Florida (Haemulon aurolineatum) is not known, we do know that these fishes are named after the grunting sound that they make. Whether or not this sound also serves as a mode of communication amongst the individuals of this small fish species is unclear.

How big is a tomtate?

The average length of a tomtate fish (family haemulidae) is about 5.1-9.84 in (13-25 cm). Just to give you a clearer idea, an olive founder is about seven times the size of this fish species, while a midas blenny would only be of about half the length!

How fast can a tomtate swim?

Unfortunately, we do not have enough data that can tell us the exact speed at which these fishes can swim, although, the slender frame of their body does suggest that the tomtates are fairly good swimmers!

How much does a tomtate weigh?

The weight of an average tomtate (Haemulon aurolineatum) is around 1-1.25 lb (453.25-566.9 g). You will be amused to know that a rockfish, which is also a bottom-dweller, can weigh 20 times as our small friends, while a great white shark would weigh at least 1150 times as much! No wonder tomtates are scared of predatory fishes, right?

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no distinct names for the male and female tomtates, and hence, we choose to lovingly refer to them as the male tomtate and the female tomtate.

What would you call a baby tomtate?

The tomtate juvenile fish would be called by the same name as all babies in the class of Actinopterygii - fry!

What do they eat?

The tomtate fish diet is pretty simple. They feed on the plankton and algae resources that are always open to them at the bottom of the ocean. Tomtate fish prey on small invertebrates occasionally, to have a change in the daily menu!

Are they poisonous?

There are no records that would suggest that tomtates are poisonous. The tomtate and white grunt (Haemulon plumierii) species are actually ate all over Mexico!

Would they make a good pet?

While it is not common practice to have a tomtate fish as a pet, there are no reasons to believe that these fishes won't prove to be good pets.

While they do live at the depth of the ocean waters, and would require coral reefs and algae to feed on, a little mimicry of their habitat might be enough to have a few tomtates in your aquarium!

Did you know...

The tomtate diet consists of planktons and algae, and hence, they live close to coral reefs.

The juvenile tomtate has similar features as that of the adults.

Larger tomtates may be aggressive and slightly territorial.

Fishermen often use tomtate grunt as bait.

Does a tomtate have a shallow body?

Tomtates have a shallow body, which means that their depth is only a small percentage of the length of the body.

Difference between a tomtate grunt and pin fish?

Pinfishes are dark green fishes that are found along the Atlantic coast, while tomtate grunts are gray in color and are mostly found around Florida.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these gar facts and koi facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable fish coloring pages.

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Written by Shirin Biswas

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

Shirin Biswas picture

Shirin BiswasBachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

With a degree in English from Amity University, Noida, Shirin has won awards for oratory, acting, and creative writing. She has a wealth of experience as an English teacher, editor, and writer, having previously worked at Quizzy and Big Books Publishing. Her expertise lies in editing study guides for children and creating engaging content.

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