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Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Labriformes
Family: Labridae
Genus: Lachnolaimus
G. Cuvier, 1829
L. maximus
Binomial name
Lachnolaimus maximus
(Walbaum, 1792)
  • Labrus maximus Walbaum, 1792

The hogfish (Lachnolaimus maximus) is a species of wrasse native to the Western Atlantic Ocean, living in a range from Nova Scotia, Canada, to northern South America, including the Gulf of Mexico. This species occurs around reefs, especially preferring areas with plentiful gorgonians. This species is currently the only known member of its genus.[2]


The hogfish is characterized by a large, laterally compressed body shape. It possesses a very elongated snout, which it uses to search for crustaceans buried in the sediment. This very long "pig-like" snout and its rooting behavior give the hogfish its name. The caudal or tail fin is somewhat lunate and the pectoral fins are along the lateral sides of the body with the paired pelvic fins directly below. A prominent black spot behind the pectoral fins differentiates males from females. The dorsal fin usually is composed of three or four long dorsal spines followed by a series of shorter dorsal spines. It is a carnivore. It feeds on molluscs, as well as crabs and sea urchins.[2]


Like many wrasses, the hogfish is a sequential hermaphrodite, meaning it changes sex during different life stages; it is a protogynous, "first female" hermaphrodite; juvenile hogfish start out as female and then mature to become male. The change usually occurs around three years of age and about 14 inches in length.[3] Females and juveniles usually start out as pale gray, brown, or reddish brown in color, with a paler underside and no distinct patterns. Males are distinguished by a deep, dark band spanning from the snout to the first dorsal spine, and by a lateral black spot behind the pectoral fins. Hogfish reach a maximum of 91 cm (36 in) in total length and about 11 kg (24 lb) and have been recorded to live up to 11 years.[4] Spawning in South Florida occurs from November through June.[5] Hogfish social groups are organized into harems where one male will mate and protect a group of females in his territory.

Economic importance[edit]

Hogfish are commonly targeted by many spear and reef fisherman and are regarded highly by many for their taste and food value. In 2007, the Florida landings of hogfish totaled 306,953 pounds.[4] The fish stocks are regulated by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Bag, size, and gear limits all have been placed on this species to ensure a healthy stock and to protect it from overfishing.


  1. ^ Choat, J.H.; Pollard, D. & Sadovy, Y.J. (2010). "Lachnolaimus maximus (errata version published in 2018)". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2010: e.T11130A124708500. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2019). "Lachnolaimus maximus" in FishBase. August 2019 version.
  3. ^ Davis, J. C. 1976. Biology of the hogfish, Lachnolaimus maximus (Walbaum), in the Florida Keys. M. S. Thesis, University of Miami, Coral Gables. p 87.
  4. ^ a b FWCC, FMRI 2008
  5. ^ Colin, P. L. 1982. Spawning and larval development of the hogfish, Lachnolaimus maximus (Pisces: Labridae). Fish. Bull. 80: 853–862

External links[edit]