Game Fishing > Grunt Family, Haemulidae > Black Grunt

Black Grunt

Black GruntThe black or common grunt is the most abundant and one of the most popular food-fishes in the vicinity of Key West. It was named by Lacepede, in 1802, in honor of Father Plumier, an early naturalist, who sent drawings of the fishes of Martinique to the museums of Europe. It be to the West Indian fauna, and is abundant near Key West, and not uncommon about the rocks and reefs at the lower end of Tampa Bay and other rocky localities on the Gulf coast of Florida. On the Atlantic coast it is found as far north as Cape Hatteras.

The depth of the body is a little more than a third of its length, compressed, with elevated shoulder. The head is as long as the depth of the body, with a large, curved mouth and a pointed and projecting snout, The profile is concave in front of the eye.

The jaws are armed with bands of strong and conical teeth, the outer ones largest and the rear ones curving forward. Its color is bluish gray, with the bases of the scales bronze, tinged with olive, forming oblique stripes running upward and backward.

The head is golden bronze, with many bright blue stripes, very distinct, a few of which extend to the shoulder. The inside of the mouth is scarlet, becoming lighter, or yellowish, on the jaws. The dorsal fin is grayish, with a yellow border on the spinous portion; the anal fin is gray tinged with yellow; the ventral fins are bluish gray; the pectoral fins are gray with a dusky bar at the base; the caudal fin is plain gray.

The common grunt grows usually to a foot in length, though more are caught under that size than over. It is often called "sow grunt" by the market fishermen, in contradistinction to the "boar grunt," as the yellow grunt is often designated by them, wrongly supposing one to be the male and the other the female.

While the general remarks on its feeding habits, as given in the page relating to the family characteristics of the grunts, are correct, it may be stated that they are essentially carnivorous, devouring small fishes, crustaceans, and other marine invertebrates that abound on the coralline reefs. They spawn late in the summer, on the rocky shoals and hard, sandy bars, congregating at such times in large schools.