Blackbarred Grunt

Blackbarred Grunt, Genyatremus dovii

The Blackbarred Grunt, Genyatremus dovii, whose common Spanish name is burro rompepailao, is a species in the Grunt or Haemulidae Family, known collectively as burros in Mexico. Globally, there are only four species in the genus Genyatremus, two of which are found in Mexican waters, both in the Pacific.

The Blackbarred Grunts have deep compressed bodies with a depth that is 45 – 50% of standard length.  They have a slanting head profile, a high back, a short blunt head, and a small mouth that is low and horizontal and that features fleshy lips. They are silvery in color with four black vertical bars on their head and body; these bars are located through their eyes, through the base of their pectoral fins, from the center of the spinous portion of their dorsal fin, and at the origin of the rayous portion of their dorsal fin (pictured below). Their fins are transparent with the exception that the tips of their anal and dorsal fins are black. Their anal fin has 3 spines, the second being long and thick, and 9 or 10 rays; their caudal fin is forked; their dorsal fin has 11 or 12 spines and 13 to 16 rays and is deeply notched with the fourth spine being the longest; their pectoral fins are short and do not reach the anal fin origin. Their body is covered with large rough scales.

The Blackbarred Grunts are found in and around relatively shallow water over sandy bottoms close to at depths between 30 and 130 feet. They reach a maximum length of 40 cm (16 inches). Very little is known about their behavioral habits.

In Mexican waters the Blackbarred Grunts have a limited distribution in being found around the tip of Baja and from Mazatlán south along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.

Due to its pattern of distinguishing vertical bars, the Blackbarred Grunt cannot be easily confused with any other species.

The Blackbarred Grunts are viewed as good table fare.

Blackbarred Grunt, Genyatremus dovii, juvenile. Fish caught from shore from coast water of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, October 2013. Length: 15.2 cm (6.0 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Tentative identification by H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.

Blackbarred Grunt, Genyatremus dovii. Fish caught from coastal waters off Mazatlán, Sinaloa, October 2017. Length: 16.5 cm (6.5 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Josh Leisen (, Gaylord, MI.

Blackbarred Grunt, Genyatremus dovii. Fish caught from coastal waters off Mazatlán, Sinaloa, April 2015. Length: 36 cm (14 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of Michael Verdirame, Markham, Ontario, Canada.