The white grunt (Haemulon plumier) or common grunt is a species of ray-finned fish in the family Haemulidae native to the western Atlantic Ocean. It grows to a length of about 30 cm (12 in) and is a silvery-cream color, with narrow yellow and blue longitudinal stripes, but can modify its color somewhat to match its surroundings. It is closely related to the blue striped grunt and the French grunt and often schools with these species. It feeds on shrimp, other crustaceans, annelids and mollusks, and is preyed on by larger piscivores such as barracuda and shark. It is sometimes caught by anglers as a game fish and its white flesh can be eaten. It is also a popular aquarium fish.
Habitat and distribution
The white grunt is found near mangroves, reefs, docks, and nearly any sort of structure in its range, which extends in the Western Atlantic from Chesapeake Bay through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico down to Brazil. It normally lives in depths similar to that of its relative, the blue striped grunt, from 0-30m in depth.
This fish is closely related to the blue striped grunt (Haemulon sciurus) and the French grunt (Haemulon flavolineatum). The white grunt is often seen schooling with those species. The familiar "grunt" that this fish makes is caused by its pharyngeal teeth grinding in the back of its throat. This sound is normally made when the fish is distressed or in danger, such as when being caught by an angler.
The white grunt is a silvery cream color with numerous yellow and blue horizontal stripes present throughout the body. The head is long with a distinct snout, and falcate pectoral fins and a forked caudal tail are also present. H. plumieri also has numerous dorsal spines and rough teeth. Unlike groupers or snappers, grunts have a strong fixed lower jawbone. The average size of this fish is six inches to more than a foot, and H. plumieri often changes its color to its direct surroundings, becoming accordingly paler or darker.
Although the natural diet of this fish largely consists of shrimp, they also feed upon annelids, crustaceans, and bivalves. Largely opportunistic, anglers have caught them on the whole spectrum of natural and artificial baits.
Large species of predatory fish such as barracuda and shark feed upon white grunts, as they are abundant and school in fairly large numbers. Other piscivorous fish such as groupers also eat H. plumieri.
Human uses, commercial and recreational
The white grunt has minor importance on the commercial scale, but is somewhat popular with children and beginners as game fish, and even experienced fishermen. Grunts are easy to catch and have white meat that cooks well, so they are sometimes caught to be eaten. A historic Florida dish, "Grits and Grunts", is traditionally prepared with H.plumieri. They also have bait value for large piscivorous fish.
These fish also have high value as aquarium fish, due to their bright colors.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2013). "Haemulon plumierii" in FishBase. August 2013 version.
- "White Grunt". South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
- "White Grunt". Ichthyology. Florida Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
- "White Grunt: Haemulon plumieri". Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
- Davidson, Buck. "White Grunt". Southern Charm SportFishing. Retrieved 30 October 2013.