Article: Priscilla Seah, aquarist at S.E.A. Aquarium
Photos: Boon Ping and Kenneth Chin, aquarists at S.E.A. Aquarium
The name of the Rooster Hogfish comes from its various characteristics. It is known as a ‘hogfish’ due to its elongated pig-like snout and large protractile mouth, and the way it roots around the seabed searching for food.
They can live up to 11 years, weigh as much as 11kg and grow to about 1m long. Here are more fun facts about this unique fish.
The Rooster Hogfish has three particularly long spines on its dorsal fin, which are elongated and trail behind the fin, reminiscent of a rooster’s comb – and this is where it gets its name.
White or brownish-red
In general, they are pearl-white or mottled and brownish-red in colour, with a bright red iris. Juvenile and female Rooster Hogfish has a much paler underside than males, and do not have any distinguishable patterns.
On the other hand, males are identifiable by a dark band from their snout to their dorsal fin, as well as a black spot near their tail. However, they also have the ability to camouflage themselves by changing colour to match their environment!
Strong jaws and protruding canine
Rooster Hogfish also have very strong jaws, with protruding canine teeth near the front of their mouths. These teeth allow them to crush the hard shell of their prey, such as molluscs and crabs.
Harems and sex change
In Rooster Hogfish, harems are formed with one larger male dominating groups of females. This allows the dominant male to access several reproductively active females at once, thereby allowing the male to have more young. At the same time, harems provide protection for the females within it, as the males will fiercely guard their territory and females, chasing potential predators and competitors away.
The Rooster Hogfish can change its sex over its lifetime – it displays hermaphroditism. It starts off being a female, but turns into a male when it matures. This is characteristic of fish in the wrasse family, where many of them can change their sex over their lifetime. When the dominant male of the harem is removed, the largest female will change its sex and take the original dominant male’s place. This sex change may take as little as 5 days, and allows the fish to continue to reproduce.
Come on down to SEA Aquarium today and meet our resident Rooster Hogfish at our Caribbean Habitat!