Friday Fellow: Porkfish

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Let’s dive into the tropical sea waters filled with coral reefs at the Atlantic coast of America to know this handsome Friday Fellow: the porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus).

Found from Florida to Southeast Brazil, the porkfish is a beautiful reef fish popular in public aquariums. In its natural environment, it occurs in a depth ranging from 2 to 20 meters and may reach 40 cm in length and 930 in weight, although most individuals are around 25 cm long.

A porkfish from a school in Mexico. Credits to Simões et al. (2014).

A porkfish from a school in Mexico. Credits to Simões et al. (2014).

The food of the porkfish consists mainly of invertebrates, such as mollusks, echinoderms, annelids and crustaceans, that it captures at night. Young specimens usually pick parasites from the bodies of larger fish. Adults may also feed on epibionts growing on sea turtles, such as the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), though it does not seem to constitute a widespread habit.

Despite sometimes being consumed as food by humans, the porkfish may be contaminated by ciguatoxins, a group of toxins that cause ciguatera, a kind of food poisoning.

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Froese, R. Anisotremus virginicus. In.: Froese, R.; Pauly, D. (Eds.) FishBase. Available at: <;. Access on February 27, 2016.

Sazima, C.; Grossman, A.; Sazima, I. 2010. Turtle cleaners: reef fishes foraging on epibionts of sea turtles in the tropical Southwestern Atlantic, with a summary of this association type. Neotropical Ichthyology, 8(1). Doi: 10.1590/S1679-62252010005000003

Simões, N.; Zarco Perello, S.; Moreno Mendoza, R. 2014. Checklist of fishes from Madagascar Reef, Campeche Bank, México. Biodiversity Data Journal 2: e1100. Doi: 10.3897/BDJ.2.e1100

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