Hogfish get their name from their abnormal appearance, which looks very similar to a hog (pig) and a fish. They are the only species of fish that look this way and are very easy to spot underwater.
How To Identify A Hogfish
Hogfish are one of the easiest species to identify, due to how unique their appearance is. This species of wrasse are flat and oval-shaped, with beady red eyes. The color of this species depends on whether they are male or female, and will differ throughout their lifespan.
With a hog-like pointed snout, these fish root around the seafloor searching for crustaceans and mollusks to feed on. All hogfish start out as females and then as they grow to be a certain size and age, some of them change into a male.
The females have more of a camouflaged pattern, with dark orange and brown coloring that blend into their surroundings very well. The males are a bright orange color with a very distinct red/maroon snout. You can often tell the difference between a male and female hogfish by the color of their snout. Female hogfish’s snout will blend into the color of their body, while male hogfish’s snout is an entirely different color than their body.
The regulations for keeping hogfish differ between certain bodies of water. For example, in the Gulf State Waters, hogfish must be 14 inches long to the fork of their tail in order to be allowed to keep them. You’re allowed 5 per day, per harvester in the Gulf State Waters and the season is open year-round.
In the Atlantic State Waters, they must be 16 inches long to the fork of their tail in order to be allowed to keep them. You’re only allowed 1 per harvester per day in Atlantic State Waters and the season is only open from May 1st through October 31st.
Where To Find Hogfish
Hogfish are reef fish, therefore you will often find them when spearfishing on reefs, ledges, and rock piles within 10-150 feet of water. These fish are only found at the bottom of the seafloor, you will not find them swimming in the middle of the water column like you would other species of fish. When spearfishing, make sure to cover the entire distance of the area that you’re diving, as these fish are not very afraid of divers and always seem to be feeding on the bottom in areas where there’s some good hard rocky bottom.
This species of fish live in packs of one dominant male and several females, so when you’ve found an area with one of them, there are most likely going to be more hogfish nearby.