White Grunt (Haemulon plumieri)

White Grunt (Haemulon plumieri)

The white grunt is a wide-ranging and abundant fish. This and other grunts often make up the largest biomass on reefs in continental shelf areas. The white grunt has some commercial value, as it grows to larger sizes than do most other grunts, and it is a tasty panfish that is also commonly used in aquariums.


One of the more colorful grunts, this fish has a silver-gray body, with moderate yellow body striping and numerous blue and yellow stripes on its head. The scales may be tipped with bronze and produce a checkered pattern. The inside of the mouth is red. It has 12 dorsal spines and 15 to 17 dorsal rays, 8 to 9 anal rays, and 17 pectoral rays.


The average length and weight are 8 to 14 inches and about a pound, although white grunts can reach 25 inches and weigh 8 pounds. They are reported to live up to 13 years.

Life history/Behavior

Like other grunts, this species is a schooling fish, often found in large groups. Schools travel in shadows during the day and are often located along the edges of reefs and at the base of coral formations. Fish are sexually mature at about 10 inches, and spawning takes place in the southeastern United States in the late spring and the summer.

Food and feeding habits

White grunts are bottom feeders that root in the sand and the bottom matter near reefs. They feed on worms, shrimp, crabs, mollusks, and small fish.

Other Names

redmouth; Spanish: ronco margariteño.


The white grunt exists in the western Atlantic, from the Chesapeake Bay throughout the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico south to Brazil. It was reportedly introduced unsuccessfully to Bermuda.


White grunts prefer shallower water from nearshore to outer reef areas.