It is a fish that lives on rocky, sandy and muddy bottoms from the surface to 100 m deep. Juveniles are gregarious but adults are solitary, although they can coordinate to attack schools of fish. Juveniles may have black spots on the body.
With an elongated body and fleshy lips, it is a very voracious species that feeds on crustaceans, fish, molluscs and other invertebrates such as sea urchins. They have been eaten since Roman times, and their name comes from the Latin lupus (‘wolf’), due to their ferocity in capturing their prey.
It is a euryhaline species, which means that it tolerates changes in salinity well and can often be found quite high up in rivers.