Species group: Grunts and Sweetlips
Other common names: Blacktail Grunt, Caesar Grunt, Cottonwick, Comical Grunt
Scientific name: Haemulon melanurum
They forage the substrate for small crustaceans. Aquarists often care only for juvenile Grunts because adults require large tanks. Grunts are very hardy but require care by experienced aquarists.
Cottonwick Grunts start off (as juveniles) being pale white with horizontal wide black and thin yellow stripes, and having yellow edges on all the fins. As adults, the Cottonwick Grunt’s tapered body is silvery with a broad black stripe that runs from the front tip of the dorsal fin diagonally downwards to the bottom tip of the caudal fin, making the whole length of the dorsal fin, the back, and the tail fin black. Horizontal yellow stripes are seen along the body, with the thickest running along the lateral line from the top of the mouth to the base of the caudal fin. The Cottonwick Grunt has a small mouth with thick lips. The dorsal fin is continuous. Like other Grunts, the Cottonwick can produce a grunt sound with its pharyngeal teeth and swim bladder.
Cottonwick Grunts are relatively peaceful fish that feed at night. They are compatible with similar-sized non-aggressive species.
Cottonwick Grunts are reef-associated. They require large tanks with sandy bottoms for foraging. Rock formations, caves, and ledges are recommended because during the day, when they are quite inactive, they like to hide among rocks and crevices and under ledges. They feed at night by preying on invertebrates dwelling in the substrate. In the wild, they are often seen in schools.