How does it look like?
The body is oval and very flattened laterally. The dorsal fin has a very long third spine and the caudal fin is sickle-shaped with the lower lobe longer than the upper one. They can measure up to 24 centimeters although they are usually smaller up to a maximum of 18 cm. Their body is red with a slightly lighter color on the belly. On the sides it has three yellow longitudinal bands that reach the front of the head. The front edges of the fins are violet. In the water and without artificial light it looks grayish.
Where does it live?
It lives in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and in the European and African Atlantic at depths ranging from 25 to 200 meters, although it is most commonly found between 30 and 50 meters. It lives in groups that settle at the entrance of caves and crevices, also inside sponges, echinoderms, empty polychaete tubes and coral blocks.
How does it feed?
Its diet is carnivorous. It eats planktonic crustaceans and small fish, it hunts against the current. It is very agile in the capture of plankton.
How does it reproduce?
They are hermaphrodite fish but in this species they mature as females and later transform into males. This transformation depends on the social structure of the group since, only when the male dies, the highest ranking female becomes a male. They reproduce between May and September.
Is a confusion possible?
It can be confused with Callanthias ruber (Rafinesque, 1810) (Papagayo) although this one is more elongated and its dorsal fin does not have such long rays. The coloration is also different although in deep waters they are difficult to distinguish. Their presence in the Mediterranean Sea is rare and they usually live much deeper starting at 60m and down to 300m.
· For divers they are a good indicator of a deep dive, as they usually are found deeper then 25/30 meters.
· They live in groups of females accompanied by a dominant male.
· They can stay suspended in the same spot minimizing the movement of their fins.
· This species can double its population in a short time (1.4 - 4.4 years).
· It serves as a lighthouse (indicative) for sport fishermen.
· It prefers dark waters because at shallow depths it does not have enough shelter.
Phylum: Chordata, Subphylum: Vertebrata, Infraphylum: Gnathostomata, Class: Osteichthyes, Subclass: Actinopterygii, Infraclass: Actinopteri, Cohort: Clupeocephala, Order: Perciformes, Family: Serranidae, Subfamily: Anthiinae, Subfamily: Anthiinae, Family: Serranidae