Shining Grunt

Shining Grunt, Haemulopsis nitidus

The Shining Grunt, Haemulopsis nitidus, whose common Spanish name is ronco brillante, is a member of the Grunt or Haemulidae Family, known collectively as burros and roncos in Mexico. Globally, there are five species in the genus Haemulopsis, four of which are found in Mexican waters of the Pacific.

The Shining Grunts have elongated compressed bodies with similar dorsal and ventral profiles and a depth that is 30 of 32% of standard length. They have an overall silvery appearance with a black blotch directly above the pectoral fin base and diffuse dark stripes on their sides along the scale rows. Their head has a short snout with a small terminal slightly oblique mouth that extends to the front edge of the eyes, two pairs of pores on the chin, and 14 to 16 gill rakers. They have three anal spines, the second of which is very short. Their dorsal fin has 12 spines and 14 or 15 rays and their pectoral fins reach past the pelvic fins but end before the anus. Their body is covered with small scales.

The Shining Grunts are a coastal species found within estuaries near mangroves over sandy and muddy bottoms at depths up to 165 feet. They reach a maximum length of 30 cm (12 inches). Reproduction is oviparous with females releasing pelagic eggs that are fertilized externally They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Shining Grunts are found in all waters of the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from Guerrero Negro northward along the central and northwest coasts of Baja.

The Shining Grunt is very similar to three other members of the Haemulopsis genus: the Elongate Grunt, Haemulopsis elongatus, the Raucous Grunt, Haemulopsis leuciscus, and the Yellowstripe Grunt, Haemulopsis axillarisbut the prominent black spot above the base of its pectoral fins make it easy to identify.

The Shining Grunts, although abundant in certain parts of their range, and too small to be of interest to most. They are retained by subsistence fishermen and sold fresh on a very limited basis in some local markets.

Shining Grunt, Haemulopsis nitidus. Fish caught with Jimmy Camacho, Jimmy’s Sportfishing, Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur, (Jimmyhcamacho@gmail.com, 613-114-0761; 612-204-1960) within the coastal waters of Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, April 2016. Length: 20.0 cm (7.9 inches).