Red Fairy Anthias
They form complex social structures based on the number of males and females and also their position on the reef itself.
Commonly found in the Red Sea, Maldives and along the Great Barrier Reef in coral reef communities.
Anthias are omnivores and feed primarily on zooplankton, tiny animals found in the water column. They benefit from several small feedings throughout the day rather than one large feeding.
Anthias school in large groups, though they tend to be in more intimate subdivisions within the school, appropriately called “harems”. These consist of one dominant, colorful male, anywhere from 2-12 females — who have their own hierarchy among them — and up to 2 ‘subdominant’ males, often less brightly colored and non-territorial. Within the swarm of females, territorial males perform acrobatic U-swim displays and vigorously defend an area of the reef and its associated harem.
Anthias are sequential hermaphrodites, meaning they can change sex from female to male. They all begin life as females. The female is not as colorful as the male of the species. Due to environmental or social factors, such as the male dying, some of the females can become males. This sex-change ensures that there will always be a male and a female to reproduce. When the sex change occurs, the female that replaces the dominant male in a harem’s hierarchy is capable of changing her sex to male in a period of 2-3 weeks.
They are prey to large predatory reef fish and sharks.