There are many species of anthias – these small, brightly colored fishes usually live in huge schools. Within these large groups, are smaller units called harems. Each harem is led by the largest, brightest male. His harem consists of smaller males, many females, and juveniles.
  • Size

    7.9 inches (20 cm)
  • Diet

  • Range

    Pacific Ocean
  • Habitat

    Reefs at depth from 33-591 feet (10-180 m)

Physical Characteristics

  • Comes in a variety of colors, including red, pink, orange, yellow and purple.
  • Males are characterized by a square magenta-colored spot on the side. Females are less colorful than males.
  • Maximum size is about 7.9 inches (20 cm).
  • Bullet-shaped and darts about when feeding or defending territory.

Animal Fact

All squarespot anthias begin life as female – some individuals then change sex and become male as adults.

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists of zooplankton.

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs throughout the Pacific Ocean from Indonesia to Samoa, the Ryukyu Islands, 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 will spend most of their time swimming above coral reefs and feeding on plankton.

Reproduction & Growth

  • Sequential hermaphrodite: can change sex from female to male.
  • Begins life as a female. Due to environmental or social factors, such as a male dying, females can become males.
  • Sex change ensures there will always be a male and a female to reproduce.
  • A female replacing the 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 is usually led by the largest most colorful male and includes several smaller less dominant males, a group of females and juvenile fish.
  • The dominant male constantly defends its place in the group’s hierarchy by challenging lesser males and males from neighboring harems.


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