| Ecological Descriptors
Adult: The many colour phases and/ or variations makes identification by general colour features unreliable. However - look for Two black spots on lower lip and 2 black spots behind doral fin on caudal peduncle. Numerous small blue/ dark spots on body and dorsal fin. General colour varaints/ phases are:
1a. Commonly red to reddish brown overall (N.B. reds appears browner at depth)
1b. This can rapidly change to the bicolour phase, with a dark back (can be "black, brown or red) and white belly. More commonly seen in early morning and evening when active/ hunting.
2. The much rarer yellow form (we have no photo record of this variant to date in Antigua).
Juvenile: Several variations, e.g. bicolour or solid colour with dark back/ white belly and have white blotches on dorsal fin and tail base. Yellow variation less common.
Adults prefer coral reefs and clear water. In the Gulf of Mexico, they are found in clear deep reefs (at least 45 m). At Bermuda and the West Indies, they are common in shallow water, but they usually hide in caves or under ledges during the day. Males are territorial. Feed mainly on small fishes and crustaceans. May follow morays and snake eels to feed on flushed preys ("nuclear hunting")..
The species is protogynous with females maturing at 16 cm TL and transforming to males at about 20 cm. Spawning occurs just before sunset over several days, and a male will spawn daily with each of the several females in his harem. Fecundity estimates range from about 150,000 to 282,000 eggs per female; with eggs 0.95 mm in diameter and having a single oil globule. Larvae have a long duration period with a large dispersal capability. They grow fast during the first year reaching 60% of their size and then grow slowly after the first few years
(Yellow form not yet recorded in Antigua)
In Antigua also known locally as Butterfish