ABSTRACT We document for the first time the early ontogeny of Centropomus poeyi based on captive raised material representing 0-19 days posthatch (dph). The achievement of early developmental landmarks (i.e., yolk-sac depletion, flexion, development of fins) and changes in pigmentation are described (1.4 mm NL-10.6 mm SL; 0-19 dph) and documented for a subset of individuals using high quality photographs. The ontogeny of the viscerocranium is also described (2.4 mm NL-10.6 mm SL; 6-19 dph). Development in C. poeyi occurs over a short period with attainment of the juvenile stage (i.e., full complement of fin rays present in each fin) occurring by 6.9 mm SL. The ontogeny of external pigmentation in C. poeyi is marked by two trends throughout growth: (1) a decrease in pigmentation dorsally; and (2) an increase in pigmentation ventrally along the midline. Development of the viscerocranium begins with the appearance of the maxilla and dentary in individuals of 2.4 mm NL, coinciding with the depletion of the yolk-sac. By 10.6 mm SL all bones of the viscerocranium are present and teeth are present on all teeth-bearing bones of the adult. Aspects of early development in C. poeyi are compared with the congeners C. undecimalis and C. parallelus.