Haemulon aurolineatum

English: Tomtate, tomtate grunt
Spanish: Ronco jeníguano

One of the smallest of the grunts, the tomtate are not highly regarded by fishermen, however it is an important food for larger fish-eating reef fishes. Often seen by divers, tomtates are approachable and serve as a warning when larger fish are near by tightening their schools and moving away from the predator. The tomtate is silver white all over with a yellow-brown stripe running the length of the body and ending as a black blotch at the base of the caudal fin. This spot is also evident in most juvenile grunts, and may be lost by older fish. The inside of its mouth is bright red.

The tomtate is distibuted from Cape Hatteras to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, the Central American coast and the Caribbean. Preferred habitat is rough bottom areas, which are scattered over the otherwise smooth plain of the continental shelf. tomtates are seldom in waters less than 54°F.

The maximum length is 10 inches but seldom exceeds 8 inches.

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