The Sparidae family of porgies comprise roughly 112 species, and as a group they have worldwide distribution in the tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Indian Oceans, although a few range into cooler waters.

Porgies are similar to grunts, but their bodies are even more flattened from side to side, or compressed, and high through the area just in front of the dorsal fins. As in some grunts, a porgy’s eyes are located high on the head and just behind the posterior margin of the mouth. The second, or soft, dorsal fin and the anal fin are both large and are about the same shape.

Porgies are medium-size to small. Some live close to shore, others in offshore waters. They are prevalent around reefs, but some are found only over sandy bottoms; others inhabit rocky bottoms. Most species can change their colors from solid to blotched or barred and from dark to light, effecting a better camouflage.

They are omnivorous and typically travel in schools. Included in the group are a number of species that are harvested for food. Many also provide good, generally light-tackle, sport for anglers. They are relatively easy to catch and, for their size, put up a strong fight.

In the United States, porgies, like grunts, are predominantly an Atlantic species off the coast. The scup (Stenotomus chrysops) averages less than 10 inches in length but is one of the most prominent members of this family. It is valued by both anglers and commercial fishermen along the northeastern and mid-Atlantic U.S. coast.

The jolthead porgy (Calamus bajonado) is one of a large group of porgies found in warm waters of the Caribbean and off southern Florida, occasionally drifting with the Gulf Stream as far north as Bermuda. Distinctively shaped, it is the largest member of its genus.