University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
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Anthias Information

Anthias are part of the Serranidae family, more specifically the subfamily Anthiinae.  Within the subfamily, there are at least 17 different genera and 170 different species of anthias.  The species can be found in all tropical oceans and seas.  Divers may also refer to them as reeffish, wreckfish, or jewelfish.  They mainly feed off of zooplankton.  Anthias are colorful fish, oftenPicture1 pink, orange, or yellow, that may be spotted among coral reefs in small groups or by the thousands.  The larger groups are referred to as a shoal, but even within a shoal the fish may be divided into small groups called harems.  As the name would suggest, these harems will consist of one dominant male and its females.  There may be anywhere between two to twelve females in the harem.  Groups with larger females will have a hierarchy among the females as well below the dominant male.  It is possible for there to be two other males in the group, ones that are less territorial and usually less colorful than the dominant male.  The dominant male will be the one defending its territory and harem, and they can be seen swimming in a U-shape display at times.

Anthias are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning they are all born female but capable of changing into males later on in development.  Like most hermaphrodites of this nature, changing into a male later on is usually to balance out a lack of males within the population.  If the dominant male of a harem dies, the largest female will change into a male and takes its place.  It is possible for the second largest female to also change and fight for dominance in this case.  Like any fish species, Anthias may be susceptible to extreme environmental changes, loss of habitat, loss of food, and pollution.  However, no anthias species are considered endangered at the moment, only vulnerable at most.  This is good news for divers and snorkelers who enjoy catching a glimpse of these colorful fish on the reef, especially underwater photographers.  Aquarists and collectors also enjoy adding them to their tanks.