Body oblong and compressed. Head large, with upper profile convex, becoming more abrupt in adults. Scales on cheeks and operculum. Occipital scales extending forward to the anterior margin of eye. Mouth small, terminal, and slightly oblique, with a band of conical and slender teeth (at least 8) in front, and 2 rows of molars at back in both jaws. Dorsal fin single, with last spines and first soft rays about equal in length. Pectoral fin long and pointed. Pelvic fin just behind pectoral fin bases, with axillary scale. Caudal fin forked.
silvery red. Inter-orbital slightly darker. Small blue spots on flanks. Dark red mark at origin of lateral line and upper margin of operculum. Fins dusky or pinkish. Caudal fin with narrow red margin. Small shaded area at pectoral basis. Inside of mouth whitish.
common up to 25 cm (max. 45 cm).
Pagellus erythrinus: anal fin with 8-9 soft rays. Length of anal fin basis smaller than distance from snout to posterior margin of eye.
Pagellus acarne and P. bogaraveo: occipital scales not reaching vertical of eye centre, and inside of mouth orange-red.
Species of the genera Sparus and Pagrus: no more than 4-6 canines in front of jaws.
Lithognathus mormyrus: about 15 transverse grey stripes on sides, and posterior nostril slit-like.
Diplodus spp.: incisiform teeth in front of jaws.
Species of the genera Dentex, Spondyliosoma, Oblada, Crenidens, Sarpa and Boops: lateral teeth conical or pointed, not molariform.
BIOLOGY / ECOLOGY
Hermaphroditic protogynous. In the Atlantic, intermittent spawning from May to November according to the latitude. In Mediterranean presumably spawns during summer, reaching maturity at 4 years of age. Feeds mainly on benthic invertebrates and small fish. Gregarious.
demersal on hard or sandy bottom to 250 m depth. Common to 120 m depth, with spawning migrations to shallower waters.