News / Species Spotlight / Highly Underrated Fish - Spanish Hogfish (10/14/15)

Highly Underrated Fish - Spanish Hogfish

In The Wild

Bodianus rufus is endemic to the tropical Atlantic ranging from Bermuda to the south of Brazil and throughout the Gulf of Mexico / Caribbean. It is usually associated with reefs and found anywhere from the surface down to 200 feet.

B. rufus has been recorded growing to the fairly large size of 15 inches, though is much more commonly seen (and mature) at 12 inches. All Spanish Hogfish are born female and a portion will turn male as they mature, when they will pair for spawning purposes.

Small fish will often function as cleaners, eating parasites off larger fish. As they grow, their diet becomes dominated by small motile invertebrates like starfish, shrimp, sea urchins, etc. Their larger maximum size, and combined with a diet that makes them (allegedly) delicious results in them being commercially harvested as a food fish, even though cases of ciguatera poisoning have been reported.

In The Aquarium

Spanish Hogfish have many benefits in the marine aquarium, but foremost is their hardiness, which is exceptional. These fish eat just about anything, and generally segue quickly onto prepared foods, including pellets. Because of their fondness for moving invertebrates, they are not the best candidates for aquariums with a lot of shrimp, stars, clams etc. Be ready to resupply snails and crabs regularly. Conversely, these fish generally ignore all corals.

These fish can be aggressive with other Spanish Hogfish, though multiple species of Bodianus can be kept together if added at the same time. These do have a fairly large adult size, and grow fairly quickly up to about 10 inches, when their growth rate slows pretty dramatically. This means they should be kept in larger aquariums. They may bully smaller fish who are added to the aquarium after the hogfish is, so keep this in mind when creating a stocking list. Because they add great contrasting color and some very unique activity, the Spanish Hogfish is an ideal fish for any FOWLR aquarium, is suitable for certain reef aquariums, and is a requirement for any Caribbean aquarium.

Scott W. Michael, Reef Aquarium Fishes, 1st ed. (T.F.H. Publications Inc, New Jersey, 2005).
QM Internal Resources: Brent Robinson, Eli Fleishauer