Silver Porgy, Diplodus argenteus
The Silver Porgy, Diplodus argenteus, whose common Spanish name is pluma plateada is a member of the Porgy or Sparidae Family, known collectively as plumas in Mexico. A subspecies of this fish is known as the South American Silver Porgy and is very common in the coastal waters of Brazil. Globally, there are fourteen species in the genus Diplodus, two of which are found in Mexican waters, both in the Atlantic.
The Silver Porgies are characterized by their “porgy-like” laterally compressed deep oval bodies which have a depth that is 44 to 46% of standard length. They range in color from silvery to golden-silvery overall with a conspicuous black spot that is larger than the eyes on the upper half of their caudal fin base. Juveniles have 8 or 9 faint dark bars on their sides. Their anal fin is black; their caudal and dorsal fins are yellow-brown to black; their pectoral fins are yellow; and their pelvic fins are transparent. Their gill cover margin and gill membranes are black. They have a small deep head, a pointed snout, and a small mouth that opens at the front and reaches the front edge of the eyes. They have two rows of teeth in the front and three rows on the sides. Their anal fin has a short base with 3 spines and 12 to 14 rays; their caudal fin is forked; their dorsal fin is low with 12 spines and 13 to 14 rays; and their pectoral fins are long reaching past the anal fin origin. They have 17 to 20 gill rakers and are covered with scales.
The Silver Porgies are a common coastal species and abundant through most of their range. They are found in clean turbulent waters along open rocky coasts and coral areas in the surf zone at depths up to 50 feet. They reach a maximum of 38 cm (15 inches) in length and 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds) in weight. They are bottom dwellers that feed in groups primarily on invertebrates including barnacles, crabs, mollusks, polychaetes, sea stars, and sea urchins. They are protogynous hermaphrodites with all fish starting out as females and transitioning to males at midlife. Each female releases thousands of eggs which are fertilized externally by males and become pelagic. They are slow growing with life-spans of up to seventeen years.
In Mexican waters the Silver Porgies are found throughout the Gulf of Mexico with the exception that they are absent from of along the east coast of the Yucatán.
The Silver Porgy can be easily confused with the Spottail Pinfish, Diplodus holbrookii (shorter dorsal spines; tail spot extending well past lateral line).
The Silver Porgies are a minor game fish for recreational anglers. Commercially, they are fished predominantly in South America being caught with traps and marketed fresh in local markets. From a conservation perspective they are currently listed as of Least Concern. They are subject to habitat destruction and overfishing in some parts of their range.
Silver Porgy, Diplodus argenteus. Fish caught off the Skyway Pier, St. Petersburg, Florida, February 2016. Length: 20.0 cm (7.9 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Silver Porgy, Diplodus argenteus. Fish caught off the Anglin’s Pier, Lauderdale-by the Sea, Florida, March 2016. Length: 23.0 cm (9.0 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.