Sargo, Anisotremus davidsonii
The Sargo, Anisotremus davidsonii, whose common Spanish name is sargo rayado, is a species in the family Haemulidae, the Grunts, known as burros in Mexico. Globally, there are ten three species in the genus Anisotremus, of which six are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific.
The Sargos have elongated bodies with a depth that is 39 – 41% of standard length. They have an overall pale dusky yellow coloration with a single broad vertical black bar running from their fifth and six dorsal spines downward to the level of their pectoral base. The upper margin of their gill cover is black and there is a dark spot at the base of their pectoral fin. The second spine of their anal fin is long, their caudal fin forked, their dorsal fin is continuous but deeply notched, with the fourth spine being the longest, and their pectoral fins are short and do not reach the anal fin origin.
The Sargos are bottom dwellers found near the shore in and around rocky reefs and occasionally over sandy bottoms at depths up to 200 feet. The juveniles form schools that can be found in tidal pools. They are the largest of the Grunts and reach a maximum length of 60 cm (24 inches) and weigh up to 2.5 kg (6 pounds). They are found along the west coast of Baja south to Todos Santos, with the southerly range being established by a fish in our possession, and there are isolated populations in the Sea of Cortez.
The Sargo can be confused with the Silvergray Grunt, Anisotremus caesius (silvery yellow color; broad vertical black bar running from before dorsal fin to pectoral base).
The Sargos are viewed as marginal table fare.
Note: The Sargo was successfully introduced to the Salton Sea in the Southern California desert in 1951. However, in recent years it has declined in population with fish now being smaller and having shorter lifespans, which has been attributed to significantly declining water quality and related issues.