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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • Indo-Pacific Reef Habitat (Tropical Diver)

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs throughout the Pacific Ocean from Indonesia to Samoa, north to the Ryukyu Islands, south to Rowley Shoals and New Caledonia, as well as throughout Micronesia.
  • Found around reefs at depths from 33-591 feet (10-180 m).
  • Lives in large groups, with few males and several dozen females and juveniles. These groups are found in areas of branching hard corals where they take shelter.
  • Active during the day and spends most of its time swimming above coral reef and feeding on plankton. 

Physical Characteristics

  • Comes in a variety of colors, including red, pink, orange, yellow and purple.
  • Male characterized by a square magenta-colored spot on side. Female is less colorful than the male.
  • Maximum size is about 7.8 inches (20 cm).
  • Bullet-shaped and darts about when feeding or defending territory.

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists of zooplankton.

Reproduction / Growth

  • Sequential hermaphrodite: can change sex from female to male. 
    • Begins life as female. Due to environmental or social factors, such as male dying, some females can become males.
    • Sex-change ensures there will always be a male and a female to reproduce. 
    • Female replacing dominant male in a harem's hierarchy is capable of changing her sex to male in a period of 2-3 weeks.

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Also known as the "squarespot fairy basslet."
  • Forms huge schools actually made up of small coexisting social harems. Each harem usually led by largest most colorful male. Includes several smaller less dominant males, a group of females and juvenile fish.
  • Dominant male constantly defends its place in the group’s hierarchy by challenging lesser males and males from neighboring harems.


Reef Fish Identification - Tropical Pacific.  Allen, G.; Steene, R.; Humann, P. and Deloach, N., pgs. 138, 143