French Grunt (Haemulon flavolineatum)

French Grunt (Haemulon flavolineatum)

The French grunt is one of the most abundant panfish in southern Florida. These and other grunts often make up the largest biomass on reefs in continental shelf areas. Although it is too small to be of commercial value, the French grunt is an excellent panfish. It is also a common aquarium fish.

Identification

Its coloring is white to bluish or yellowish, with bright-yellow stripes. The stripes set below the lateral line are diagonal. There are yellow spots on the bottom of the head. The fins are yellow, and the inside of the mouth is blood red. It has 14 to 15 dorsal rays, 8 anal rays, and 16 to 17 pectoral rays.

Size

The average length is 6 to 10 inches, although this fish can reach 12 inches.


Behavior

The French grunt is a schooling fish, drifting in small to large groups that can number in the thousands. The schools travel in shadows during the day. Juveniles hide in grassbeds in bays, lagoons, and coastal waters.

Feeding habits

French grunts are nocturnal bottom feeders that scavenge sand flats and grassbeds near reefs for crustaceans.

Other Names

Spanish: ronco amarillo.

Distribution

The French grunt is abundant in Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. It also inhabits the waters of South Carolina, Bermuda, and the Gulf of Mexico, and south to Brazil.

Habitat

Preferring shallower water close to shore, the French grunt inhabits coastlines and deeper coral reefs in depths from 12 to 60 feet. Grunt populations are less prominent around islands lacking large expanses of grassbeds and sand flats.
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