BAHAMAS REEF FISH (45) THREESPOT DAMSELFISH
The threespot damselfish Stegastes planifrons is one of several damselfish types found in the Bahamas and more generally in the western Atlantic. As with so many reef species, there is a marked difference in coloration between juveniles (bright yellow) and darker-hued adults (above).
These are bony little creatures, equipped with both spines and ‘soft rays’ on some of their fins. This perhaps make them unappealing to potential predators; and maybe the very brightness and ‘hi-viz’ of the juveniles is aposematic, a coloration thats acts as a warning or repellent to potential predators.
On the reef it seems threespots favour staghorn coral as a daytime base. Their diet is mainly seaweed, with small molluscs, gastropods and worms for variety. At night they retire to crevices and caves.
Adults are, for such small fish, vigorously protective of their territories. They will chase and nip intruders into their domains, even far larger creatures (up to and including humans).
A breeding pair will both be involved in egg care. Once the female has laid her eggs, they adhere to the lower reef and seabed. The male guards them and rather sweetly fans them with his fins to keep them oxygenated. And then another generation hatches and the threespot life cycle repeats.
Credits: All fantastic photos by Melinda Riger / Grand Bahama Scuba
Loved this trip underwater, RH, and learning about the Threespot damselfish. Wonderful narrative and Melinda Riger’s photos, as always, were stellar.
I love the reef fish, Jet. I wish I could see them more often, swim properly, and have a decent underwater camera! Access for Melinda’s archive is the next best thing! The small fish like these are just as interesting as the larger species… RH
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