The piggy is a small silver-olive coloured fish with a notable dark black-brown blotch on its gill covers, and the top of its body is noticeably pinker than the bottom. Its fins are usually transparent but can take on a yellow tint. It is elongated and has a short snout compared to other grunters.
It inhabits the Indian Ocean, particularly the African coast where it dwells in sandy and reef habitats to a depth of 90m. It occurs in large shoals in these waters where it serves as a vitally important prey animal of a number of large predators, such as sharks and cetaceans. These large shoals are often juveniles who will migrate to deeper waters when they mature.
The piggy is one of the smallest fish in the grunter family, but is still a proficient predator, feeding on shrimp, octopusses and flatworms.
The grunt family
Grunts are a group of fishes of the Haemulidae family. There are approximately 133 species of grunt, living in oceanic, brackish and tropical freshwater environments. 19 of these species occur in Southern African waters.
Grunts receive their name from the grunting sound that they are able to make by grinding the teeth of their pharyngeal jaws together. These strong jaws are important, as all grunts are bottom-feeding carnivores – typically feeding on crustaceans and shellfish.