17 photos - 9 species


The fish got their German name because they can produce grunting sounds with their gullet teeth, which are amplified by the swim bladder.

Grunts are mainly nocturnal and are inactive during the day in large schools near hiding places and disperse at night in search of food over seagrass meadows and sandy areas.

Anisotremus surinamensis

Black margate, Black bream, Black thicklip, Dogfish, Lippe, Mexican bull, Pompon, Spanish grunt, Surf bream, Sweetlips or Thicklip grunt

Maximum length: 60 cm

Depth: 3 - 20 metres

Has a large dark spot behind the pectoral fins and dark fins.

Inhabits nearshore reefs, preferring rocky parts of the reef.

Shy, retreats into caves, crevices or other hiding places when approached. 

Photo 1 Astrid: Bonaire Caribbean

Photo 2 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Anisotremus virginicus

Porkfish, Atlantic porkfish, Sweetlips, Dogfish or Paragrate grunt

Maximum length: 35 cm

Depth: 3 - 20 m

Bright golden-yellow body with two broad black horizontal stripes.

High back.

Not very shy, allows divers to approach closely.

Photos 1 - 2 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Brachygenys chrysargyreum

Smallmouth grunt

Maximum length: 25 cm

Depth: 3 - 15 metres

Elongated, cylindrical body with 5 to 6 yellow longitudinal stripes and yellow fins.

Their mouth is smaller than that of other grunts.

They prefer shallow reefs where they swim in small shoals near the bottom.

Shy, patience and a slow approach are also required here.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Photo 2 Astrid: Bonaire Caribbean

Haemulon album

White margate, Grey grunt, Grunt, Margaret fish, Margaret grunt, Margate, Margate fish, Ronco blanco, Viuda, White grunt,

White pogret or Yellow grunt

Maximum length: 70 cm

Depth: 2 - 15 metres

High back, white pectoral fins, but may have dark spots and 3 pale stripes on the body.

The dorsal and caudal fins are usually dark in colour.

Largest grunt species.

Photos 1 - 2 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Haemulon carbonarium

Carsar grunt, Black grunt, Blacktail grunt or Redmouth grunt

Maximum length: 40 cm

Depth: 3 - 15 m

Yellow to dark copper or bronze-coloured longitudinal stripes.

Tail - anus - and the rear part of the dorsal fin are dark, caudal fin with a light-coloured edge.

Normally found in small shoals.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Haemulon flavolineatum

French grunt, Banana grunt, Gold laced grunt, Open mouthed grunt, Redmouth grunt or Yellow grunt

Maximum length: 30 cm

Depth: 4 - 20 m

White, bluish, to yellowish silvery background with yellow stripes and yellow fins.

Swim in shoals of up to several thousand animals in dense formations over the coral reefs.

Shy, patience and very slow behaviour are required to get close to the animals.

Photos 1 - 3 Astrid: Bonaire Caribbean

Haemulon parra

Sailor's grunt or Sailor's choice

Maximum length: 45 cm

Depth: 3 - 20 m

Unmistakable scale pattern, arranged in lines by black spots.

Occasionally travelling alone, otherwise in small groups.

Very shy, always keeping a safe distance.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Photo 2 Astrid: Bonaire Caribbean

Haemulon sciurus

Bluestriped grunt, Boar grunt, Golden grunt, Humpback grunt, Redmouth grunt or Yellow grunt

Maximum length: 45 cm

Depth: 4 - 15 metres

The tail and the rear part of the dorsal fin are black, but have a light-coloured edge.

Often found on drop-offs in small to medium-sized schools.

It is shyer than other grunts.

When a diver approaches, they swim away.

You have to be patient if you want to get close to them.

Photos 1 - 2 Astrid: Bonaire Caribbean

Haemulon vittatum


Maximum length: 23 cm

Depth: 10 - 50 m

Silvery blue with thin stripes.

Shoals of them can be found in open water, usually at a depth of 15 - 30 metres.

Often mixed with shoals of creole wrasse.

Not shy, you can usually get close to them.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean.