- First 3 spines of dorsal fin greatly elongated
- Black blotch near end of dorsal fin
- Body deep, strongly compressed
- Snout elongated in adults
- Tail with elongated upper and lower lobes
- Young mottled with various colors, fading with age
Size: Up to 36 inches
Newly spawned hogfish have a larval duration of about 26 days with the young settling in shallow inshore nursery habitats such as seagrass beds. As hogfish mature, they gradually move to deeper waters and rocky bottoms, ledges and offshore reefs.
Long, hog-like snout allows them to feed on bottom-dwelling mollusks and crustaceans. Because they tend to root in the sediment in search of small prey, they are not commonly caught on hook and line.
Hogfish are sequential protogynous hermaphrodites. Meaning that all hogfish start their lives as females and, as they get older and larger, can turn into males. Breeding season can last from November to June with the peaks in March and April. During breeding season, the male hogfish defends a territory and a harem of females. The male then breeds individually with the females, sometimes as often as daily, with spawning typically occurring in the late afternoon.
The oldest female hogfish recorded was 12 years old and 64 cm (~ 25 inches) and a transitional specimen was aged to 18 years. It is believed that hogfish can live as long as 23 years.