Yellowstripe Grunt, Haemulopsis axillaris
The Yellowstripe Grunt, Haemulopsis axillaris, whose common Spanish name is ronco callana, and whose local name is roncador, is a member of the Grunt or Haemulidae Family, known collectively as burros and roncos in Mexico. Globally, there are only five global members of the Haemulopsis Genus, four of which are found in Mexican waters of the Pacific.
The Yellowstripe Grunts have a streamlined shape, overall silver appearance, strong lateral line, and faint brownish stripes running from front to back. Their body width is 33 to 35% of length. They have a faith white line under their eyes and a black line in their second dorsal fin which is unique to this species. Their upper head profile is convex with a short snout that is 6 to 7% of standard length. Their first anal spine is strong and their second anal spine is shorter than the third. They have long pectoral fins that reach the anal fin origin. There are black blotches behind their upper gill opening and a triangular black spot at the base of their pectoral fin.
The Yellowstripe Grunts are found within sandy and muddy flats at depths up to 370 feet. They reach a maximum length of 30 cm (12 inches). They are nocturnal carnivores feeding on benthic crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, and small fish. They are a poorly studied species and little is known about their behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Yellowstripe Grunt are found from Magdalena Bay southward along the southwest coast of Baja, in the southern half of the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.
The Yellowstripe Grunt is difficult to identify as it is very similar in appearance to the Elongate Grunt, Haemulopsis elongatus (straight head profile; long snout, snout 10 – 11% of standard length), the Raucous Grunt, Haemulopsis leuciscus (third anal spine reaching past anal fin base, snout 11 – 12% of standard length), and the Shining Grunt, Haemulopsis nitidus (very short second anal spine; black blotch behind operculum).
The Yellowstripe Grunts are too small and too rare to be of interest to most.
Yellowstripe Grunt, Haemulopsis axillaris. Fish caught from coastal waters off Mazatlán, Sinaloa, October 2012. Length: 26 cm (10 inches). Catch and photos courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Yellowstripe Grunt, Haemulopsis axillaris. Fish caught from coastal waters off Mazatlán, Sinaloa, October 2012. Length: 25 cm (9.8 inches). Note that this fish has the traditional barring for which the fish is named. Catch and photos courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Yellowstripe Grunt, Haemulopsis axillaris. Fish caught from coastal waters off Mazatlán, Sinaloa, April 2015. Length: 31 cm (12 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of Michael Verdirame, Markham, Ontario, Canada.
Yellowstripe Grunt, Haemulopsis axillaris. 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, March 2017. Length: 32 cm (13 inches).