Hogchoker (Trinectes maculatus)

hogchoker - Trinectes maculatus 3

Last updated on September 19th, 2022 at 04:02 pm

The hogchoker (Trinectes maculatus) gets its name from the fish’s ability to swallow large, prey whole, including fish as long as 8 cm in length, thanks to its expandable jaws and external throat grooves that act like vacuum cleaners. When feeding, the hogchoker finds food on the ocean floor by using its sensitive barbels and underdeveloped eyes to detect the electrical fields of their prey animals such as mollusks and crustaceans.

It is important to educate yourself on the Hogchoker (Trinectes maculatus) care before you get one as a pet, so you can make sure it is the right choice for you. This guide will provide basic care instructions and more information about their requirements and habits.

Origin and descriptions

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The hogchoker is a species of flatfish native to estuaries, coastal ponds, and bays along eastern North America from Canada to Virginia. Hogchokers are slender fish and can reach up to 20 cm in length, although most never grow more than half that size.

The largest flatfish in North America is actually not a flounder at all but belongs to an entirely different family known as right-eye flounders. The scientific name for these fish means spotted tongue because they have two dark spots on their tongue, one near each corner of their mouth.

These spots may be used for camouflage by blending in with seaweed or other underwater plants when hiding from predators such as blue crabs or striped bass.

Species profile

Hogchoker belongs to the family Achiridae. It is a fish native to North America and can be found in fresh, brackish, and saltwater of Canada and the United States. The hogchoker is a small fish that has a distinctive hog-like appearance with its long snout. It is usually dark brown or green in color but can also be yellowish or gray depending on its habitat.

Oyster Toadfish "Opsanus Tau"

This species measures up to 8 inches in length and weighs up to 2 pounds. They are bottom dwellers that feed on benthic invertebrates such as shrimp, worms, crabs, mollusks etc. They have been observed burying themselves into the sand during low tide so they can easily emerge when there is an increase in water level. Like other members of their family, they have three pairs of barbels located near their mouths.

These barbels help them locate food items buried under rocks and mud. They are known to spawn from May through July after which they die off due to a lack of oxygenation at high tide. Juveniles live close to shore while adults live further out in deeper waters where there is less competition for food sources.

Scientific name

The scientific name of the Hogchoker is Trinectes maculatus

Other common names

Freshwater sole, freshwater flounder,


Freshwater sole can be found in many habitats but is most common in shallow, brackish waters such as marshes, estuaries, and tidal pools. They are often found hiding under rocks or logs during low tide, exposed at high tide. The hogchoker eats a variety of foods from crustaceans to small fish and their hard-bony mouths make it difficult for them to eat things that do not fit into their mouth cavity.

Freshwater sole will sometimes even feed on dead animals if they find them. They have been known to travel up rivers and streams when water levels rise, sometimes traveling several miles inland in search of food sources.

Hogchoker size

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This fish species can grow up to 8 inches (20 cm) in length.

Tank size

Due to their big size, the minimum recommended tank size for this species is 55 gallons (208 liters).

Tank requirements

While freshwater flounders do require large tanks or frequent water changes, a sand substrate of around two inches is necessary to prevent choking. The presence of rocks and driftwood structures in your tank are also highly recommended. A 50-gallon tank is sufficient for up to three juveniles, while an adult requires a tank at least 55 gallons.

Dalmatian Lyretail Molly (Poecilia latipinna)

Water conditions should be kept stable at a temperature between 73–77 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH between 7.0 and 8.0. Water movement should be moderate to high; they are poor swimmers and will not thrive in low-flow environments.

Freshwater flounder can adapt to a wide range of salinity levels, but they prefer freshwater environments with salt concentrations below 10 parts per thousand. You’ll want to keep nitrate levels below 20 ppm and ammonia levels below 1 ppm as well.

Filtering systems such as under-gravel filters are ideal for maintaining these parameters. This species is sensitive to copper, so you may wish to avoid using copper treatments in your aquarium.

Tank mates

Hogchokers do well with other fish, such as triggerfish and puffers. However, keep in mind that hogchokers will be smaller-sized fish and maybe eaten by bigger tank mates.

If you are keeping hogchokers with large fish or aggressive eaters, place them in an area of your tank where there is plenty of covers to hide from predators. Because they are nocturnal creatures, their movement during daylight hours may go unnoticed by their tank mates.


hogchoker Trinectes maculatus 4 - hogchoker

While hogchokers can be produced through captive breeding, a better way to maintain a healthy population of these fish is through a catch-and-release approach. If you choose to try and breed them, you’ll need soft acidic water conditions at an approximate pH of 6.2, as well as an aquarium that holds between 20 and 35 gallons.

The spawning area should be densely planted with thickets of live plants so that male and female hogchokers have ample cover for breeding. You’ll also want to include some floating plants in your tank, as they provide excellent egg protection.

Once your pair has spawned, remove any unhatched eggs from their nest immediately to prevent fungus growth on them. After about three weeks, once the fries are free swimming, feed small live foods such as baby brine shrimp or infusoria until they are large enough to eat crushed flake food.

Figure 8 Puffer Fish Care (Dichotomyctere ocellatus)

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Hogchokers are typically a docile species, but males become very territorial during mating season and may become aggressive towards other hogchokers or unfamiliar fish. They make great additions to community tanks with peaceful bottom dwellers.

A single hogchoker in a tank should be fine with larger, more assertive fish such as cichlids; however, if you have multiple hogchokers, I recommend keeping them all together so they can defend each other against aggressive tank mates.

Hogchoker care

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The hogchoker, also known as spotfin chub, is a small fish native to estuaries and coastal areas. In its natural habitat, hogchokers are most often found in areas of high salinity, such as bays and salt marshes. These areas provide good sources of food for hogchokers—mainly marine worms and crustaceans.

Hogchokers can survive in freshwater for short periods of time, but they prefer brackish water with a specific gravity between 1.005 and 1.010; an aquarium with those conditions will be suitable for them.

They require plenty of hiding places among rocks or plants, so it’s best to keep them in groups of three or more when possible. Hogchokers do not eat flake foods; instead they prefer live foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp nauplii.

What they eat

Hogchokers are omnivores that prefer a diet of snails, clams, crabs, crayfish and mussels. They also eat small fish and insects. These fish often get most of their food from scavenging on dead animals. They spend most of their time hunting for food around sunken wood in shallow waters.


This fish species can live up to 7 years.

Parasites and diseases

The most common parasite affecting freshwater flounders is a species of tapeworm called Proteocephalus ambloplites. This tapeworm lives within hogchokers and causes no harm to them whatsoever. It does, however, cause a few fish owners to disregard these fish for fear that they are harboring parasitic diseases.

Poecilia sphenops (Marble Lyretail Molly)

In reality, it’s extremely unlikely that you will contract any disease from your hogchoker; if you do come down with something, chances are it’s unrelated to your pet.


Hogchokers have a diverse set of predators that includes large fish, birds, and humans. Juveniles are more at risk to predation than adults due to their smaller size and greater exposure; however, once they reach maturity (around 8-inches), they become less vulnerable as adults.

This is because they spend much of their time in muddy bottoms where larger predators cannot reach them. The mud also offers protection from human disturbance and keeps juvenile hogchokers protected until adulthood.

Do they make good pets?

Yes, but only for experienced aquarists. Hogchokers need a lot of room to swim around. They will get aggressive if they feel threatened. I don’t recommend keeping one as a pet by beginner aquarists unless you know what you are doing and can dedicate a large tank to it. You also need to know that hogchokers can live for up to 7 years! Plan ahead before taking on a pet of any kind!