Abundant in shallow coastal waters, from mangroves and sandy beaches to wrecks and harbors. Juveniles (black phase) are common in estuaries and often found in very shallow water swimming at an angle resembling dead leaves or as infertile red mangrove pods and other debris. Adults often occur in very large schools of up to 500 individuals (Ref. 9710). Feed on benthic invertebrates like crustaceans, mollusks, annelids, cnidarians as well as on plankton (Ref. 35237). Good food fish (Ref. 5521); marketed fresh (Ref. 5217). Often circles divers (Ref. 9710). Minimum depth from Ref. 9710. In southeastern Brazil found between 23 and 45 m (Ref. 47377). Has been reared in captivity (Ref. 35425).