| Ecological Descriptors
Body strong and stout, with a large mouth. Body pale with reddish spots (no spots on tail or dorsal fin). Can pale or darken. Tail and rear fins have broad black margin edged in white. Spiney dorsal fin olive with yellow tips.
Drift above the bottom on rocky bottoms and shallow reefs in depths of 3 to 50m. Feeds mainly on crabs and other crustaceans, fish and octopuses that are drawn into their mouths by a powerful suction created when they open their large mouths. Held securely by thousands of small, rasp-like teeth that cover the jaws, tongue and palate, the prey is swallowed whole.
Protogynous hermaphrodites, beginning life as females, but changing to males with maturity. Some undergo sexual inversion at a length of 28 cm. Fish larger than 40 cm are males. Produces pelagic eggs and larvae. Eggs hatch in 27 hours in lab. Females rest on or close to the bottom, while males patrol around an area that consists of one to five females and defend this territory from other males. Form aggregations and reproduce almost exclusively within the aggregation period. Reproduces from December to April in the Caribbean.
(C) Richard Eaker