Grunts are a family, Haemulidae, of fishes in the order Perciformes. They are numerous and widespread, with about 150 species in 19 genera.
Identification & Biology: Most grunts are deep-bodied fish that range from 6 to 10 inches in length, although a few grow larger. They are typically caught around reefs, where they travel in small or extensive schools, and provide important forage for larger predators.
They are bottom-feeding predators, and named for their ability to produce sound by grinding their teeth. The name “grunt” is derived from the grunting noises these fish make by grinding their pharyngeal teeth, the sounds amplified by the taut swim bladder that serves as a resonator. The purpose of this, whether sexual or aggressive, is not known.
Range & Habitat: found in tropical fresh, brackish and salt waters around the world. The haemulids, although known collectively as grunts, are known individually by a number of names, among them porkfish, pigfish, sweetlips, margate, and tomtate. Among the better-known species is the blue-striped, or yellow, grunt (Haemulon sciurus).
Market Description: Very few offshore anglers target grunts, rather they are generally caught while seeking the more glamorous grouper and snapper. Those anglers who’ve taken a few larger specimens home for dinner, though, know the white grunt as one of the suncoast’s most underrated table fish. Most Grunts are viewed as saltwater panfish. A larger, 15-inch adult weighs over a pound and a half, and produces palm-sized delicately sweet fillets.