Hermaphrroditic fishes of the Bahamas

This discussion topic submitted by Brian J. Lampart (lamparbj@po.miamioh.edu) on 6/12/98.

This past semester I took an Ichthyology course and discovered many interesting things about fishes. A topic that caught my attention and which I have explored to share with the TME class is hermaphroditic fishes. There should be close encounters with these fish during our trip.

Hermaphroditic fishes of the Bahamas

Hermaphrodite - both sperm and egg are produced in the same animal

Simultaneous hermaphrodite - both male and female systems present at the same time

Sequential hermaphrodite - the animal is first one sex and then another (Protandry - first male then female, Protogyny - first female then male)

In hermaphroditic fish, sex is determined by social and physical factors. There are three families of fish we will see which are hermaphrodites. These are Serranidae (sea basses), Labridae (wrasses), and Scaridae (parrotfishes).

In general, the Scaridae have three color patterns which change with age and sex. These are the juvenile phase, initial phase (young adults), and terminal phase (large dominant males). Mating is controlled by the terminal phase males who defend permanent territories with a harem of females. smaller males also spawn by sneaking and streaking. Sneakers are small males which spawn with females in a terminal male's territory. Streakers are small males which dash into a territory and spawn with a female just as the terminal male spawns. This pattern is also true for other hermaphroditic fishes.

We will hopefully see some of these fishes and now have a greater understanding of there life and niche in the reef.

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