This abundant, small member of the Sparidae family is important as forage for predatory species of fish and is widely used by anglers as bait. There was once a fairly good commercial ﬁshery for pinﬁsh, but it is now a minor one; the ﬂesh is oily and has a strong ﬂavor.
IdentificationThe pinﬁsh has a compressed panﬁshlike body, with a head that is high through the area just in front of the dorsal ﬁn. It has a small mouth and incisorlike teeth with deeply notched edges. Its coloration is silvery overall, with yellow and blue horizontal stripes. A round black spot at the upper rear margin of each gill cover is distinctive. The name of the species comes from the needle-sharp spines on the ﬁrst dorsal ﬁn. All ﬁns are yellowish.
A similar small porgy, the spottail pinﬁsh (Diplodus holbrooki), averages less than 10 inches in length, but occasional larger individuals do exist. It is identiﬁed by the large black band across the base of the caudal peduncle and by the black margin on the gill covers.
Otherwise, the body is silvery, with only faint black bars. The spottail pinﬁsh is common over rocky bottoms and around docks and piers. In the Caribbean it is replaced by the almost identical silver porgy (D. argenteus).