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Pigfish are characterized by irregular barring on the cheeks, a mottled appearance, or indistinct, irregular vertical bars. Often mistaken for pinfish, its dorsal spines are smaller, the eye is smaller and the distance from eye to mouth is greater. Pigfish are abundant and rarely reach more than 8 inches in length. Texas record is 1.04 pounds, 12.5 inches, 1998. Adults spawn in the Gulf and the young grow up in the bays, living in grassy areas or on shoals. They feed primarily on small crustaceans and mollusks, but also will take small fragments of other food. The name pigfish was probably derived from the chattering noises they make when caught. Like other members of the grunt family, a pigfish makes a grunting sound by rubbing the teeth in their throat together. By night, pigfish use their throat teeth to grind up shellfish and small bits of other food.

Adults live primarily in bays in grassy areas or on slopes of channels. Pigfish are usually caught around docks and piers using peeled shrimp.