The hogchoker (Trinectes maculatus) is a small flatfish found along the Atlantic coast of North America, ranging from Massachusetts and Florida to Panama. They prefer brackish water, and are abundant in many bays and estuaries north of the Carolinas (another similar species[which?] replaces it south of the Carolinas). It is a member of the American sole family Achiridae. They are usually brown to dark brown in color, and lighter on their "blind side" (side lacking an eye). The overall body color is often broken by a series of spots and thin stripes, which can be lighter or darker than the main body color. The fins and tail have fringed edges helping hide the fish from its prey. They mainly feed on small aquatic insects and invertebrates. They are regarded as "trash fish" by recreational fishermen and were fed to pigs but they have rather bony bodies which were sometimes difficult for the pigs to swallow, hence the vernacular name.
In the aquarium
Hogchokers are sometimes offered for sale in aquarium stores, often marketed as "freshwater flounder" or "freshwater fluke". This is not fully correct, however. While some species of full freshwater flatfish exist from Southeast Asia and South America, the hogchoker is thought to be a species of coastal estuaries and mud flats. While some aquarists have kept specimens for their whole lives in fresh water, it is not known whether or not they can thrive without salt. Large adult specimens have been found quite regularly up the Mississippi, Hudson, and East Rivers, so long as the bottom is soft sand and rich enough to cultivate small invertebrates on the substrate. They spend their time in aquariums attached to rocks, driftwood, and the glass, using their bellies as suction cups in much the same manner as hillstream loaches. They are known to spawn in various salinities but prefer moderate salinities of 10-16 parts per thousand and a tempertature of around 25°C. After hatching the larvae move upstream into freshwater. In Spring they migrate back downstream to spawn.
They are hard to feed, preferring live food such as brine shrimp, Daphnia, mosquito larvae, and Tubifex worms. In the wild, they feed mainly by sifting tiny organisms (white sandworms in salt and brackish water, insect larvae in fresh) out of sand and mud. When unhealthy, the spots on this fish's belly often change color or move.
- NatureServe (2013). "Trinectes maculatus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2013: e.T190082A18130930. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T190082A18130930.en. Downloaded on 28 March 2018.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2006). "Trinectes maculatus" in FishBase. January 2006 version.
- "Hogchoker Trinectes maculatus". Chesapeake Bay Program. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
- Munroe, T.A., 2002
- Munroe, T.A., 2002. Achiridae. American soles. p. 1925-1933. In K.E. Carpenter (ed.) FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Vol. 3: Bony fishes part 2 (Opistognathidae to Molidae), sea turtles and marine mammals
- "Trinectes maculatus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 30 January 2006.