Chapter Ten m

Lyretail Anthias

SEA BASSES. The Swissguard Basslet (Liopropoma rubre), is but one of many small serranids suitable for the aquarium. Ranging from south Florida and the Bahamas to the Yucat√°n, this species is found at depths ranging from 10 to 150 feet. It prefers a cool, dimly illuminated aquarium with suitable h iding places among the live rock. It feeds on small, meaty foods and is hardy in captivity. The related Candy Basslet (.L. carmabi) is less frequently seen, primarily because it is found at greater depths, ranging from 45 to 200 feet, in the waters from the Florida Keys to Bonaire. It reaches only 2 inches in length. Both species are solitary and are simultaneous hermaphrodites, and although captive propagation has not been reported, the potential is high (Hunziker, 1995). The larger basses, including the groupers, may be trusted with sessile invertebrates, but because of their size, waste production, and appetite for smaller fishes and shrimps, they are generally not recommended for most typical reef aquariums.

ANTHIAS. The Anthiidae, or anthias family, contains many beautiful species, and with special care, some of the more commonplace ones can be maintained in a coral reef aquarium. There are also, however, many anthias that are impossible to acclimate to captivity. The best course of action for the beginning aquarist is to avoid this group altogether.

Experienced hobbyists wishing to try anthias should start with one of the better known species, such as Pseudan-thias squamipinnis. This species has many common names, but we will use Lyretail Anthias. Feeding on zooplankton in the warm waters from East Africa to the Great Barrier Reef, the Lyretail Anthias can reach 6 inches in length. It lives in schools of ten to many hundreds of individuals. Each school has its own rigid social hierarchy. Swimming at the highest point in the school is the brightly colored, territorial, alpha male. Below him is a group of large females about to undergo their sex change into males. All anthias hatch as females and develop into males as they mature. This pattern of development, called protogynous hermaphroditism, is found in many reef fishes, notably many small serranids, to which anthias are closely related. The remaining 90% of the anthias school consists of actively reproducing females and juveniles.

When fish approach the time of their sex change, they attempt to create territories for themselves so as to attract females lor breeding. The alpha male may prevent them from doing so, and these so-called "bachelor" males form a group of hangers-on, down at the lowest position in the school. If the alpha male should meet an unfortunate fate,

Lyretail Anthias iPseudanthias squamipinnis): a gorgeous Indo-Pacific species that does best in shoals in larger aquariums with frequent feedings.

238 Natural Reef Aquariums

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