Porgies have been the bane of my identification efforts for a long time.  Even more challenging than generic brown damselfish...  Anyhow this is one that I caught a few years ago down in the Florida Keys.  

We initially believed it to be a grass porgy due to its colouration and head profile.  Then, we noted orange in the corner of the mouth and called it as a jolthead porgy.  Finally and recently, a friend of mine pointed out the black coloration at the axil of the pectoral fin and what teeth we could see and called it a sheepshead porgy.  

It may be impossible to tell, as porgies sometimes are without knowing dentature, but I really wanted to hear from you guys!

It was released immediately after these pictures.  


I think you had it right the first time, Grass porgy, Calamus arctifrons.

Your fish has: a conspicuous dark blotch (larger than pupil) on lateral line near top of gill cover

The Sheepshead lacks this spot and has an obvious overbite.

We have a website with classes on different families, the Porgies and Chubs still needs to be added.



Thank-you for the help.  I'll

Thank-you for the help.  I'll be sure to bookmark that website, it looks awesome!

My friend pointed me towards this guide:  http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/y4162e/y4162e00.htm

I've looked through the guide and this is what my fish shares with sheepshead porgy:

-15 pectoral rays-black spot at base of pectoral fin

What does't match:

-lips divide din half by groove-no other orange or blue markings on head or body 

Grass porgy usually at 16 pectoral rays.

I guess I'm still not comfortable calling this fish either way.




Be aware that meristics such as fin ray counts are ranges and not difinitive and realted species have some overlap. In the end not all individuals can be identified to species by visual means, sometimes it requires a DNA sample. 

Grassy porgy = gill rakers 10 (10-12); dorsal fin low, XIII, 12 (11-13); anal fin short, III short spines, 10-11 soft rays; pectorals usually 16 rays, fin relatively short (28-33% SL, not reaching anal fin origin); tail fin forked; cheeks and opercles scaly, but no scales on snout or between the eye and mouth; lateral line scales 43-49.

Sheepshead porgy = dorsal fin low, XIII, 12 rays; anal fin short, III short spines, 10-11 soft rays; pectoral fin usually 15 rays, fin not very long, may just reach origin of anal fin;cheeks and opercles scaly, but no scales on snout or between the eye and mouth; lateral line scales 45-49.



 ps The website you have has been created by Ken Carpenter, he and the illustrator Val Kells have a must have book  https://jhupbooks.press.jhu.edu/content/field-guide-coastal-fishes


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Design by Joanne Kidd, development by Ben Weintraub