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Five Things about Square Spot Anthias (ft. Miss Saltwater Tank)


Hi everyone, I’m here to talk a bit about
Anthias with some help from Louise A.K.A. Miss SaltwaterTank. I like having her on whenever
the topic of fish comes up because she’s much more into the fish keeping side of the
hobby while I quite predictably am more into the coral side. Thanks for having me back! It’s great that
we are able to do collaborations like this despite being in different countries. Let’s
get started with some facts about Anthias that you may or may not know… Ok, I’ll start it up. Number One! In the
background is one of the more unusual, yet brilliantly coloured Anthias, the square spot.
This anthias fits into the heavy weight category topping the charts at a whooping eight inches.
Although this species is one of the biggest of its kind, anthias are closely related to
groupers which are giants in the fish keeping world. They are both in the same family, Serranidae
and diverge at the order level. Number Two! Anthias are hermaphroditic. They
are born without any sex and develop into males and females depending on their position
in the social hierarchy. It is in fact the males that give these fish their name, sporting
a light pink square on their side, while the females display a slightly duller orange colouration
with yellow stripes. But wait… lots of fish are hermaphroditic.
Clownfish for example are hermaphroditic, so what’s so special about Anthias? The
interesting thing about Anthias is their sex is dependent on a sophisticated social ladder.
Unlike clownfish where the big boss is the female, the top of anthias social order is
the male. The male has to aggressively maintain their place in the social order or else the
highest ranking female will turn into a male to challenge his standing in the school, this
gender transition takes approximately two to three weeks. Likewise, the highest ranking
female must maintain her status by physically intimidating the lower ranking females. The
chain goes down all the way to the lowest ranking female that unfortunately faces the
abuse from all other anthias. Number Three! In the wild, Anthias are found
in a huge depth range from shallow reefs to very deep on the reef face. The square spot
in particular are found at depths of up to 600 metres… that’s about 1800 ft. for
my Burmese and Liberian viewers. At these depths they experience much lower light levels
than the average reef tank so subdued lighting is advised to replicate their natural habitat.
This male anthias you see here has a muted coloration due in large part to the amount
of light this tank has to grow SPS. Number Four! More isn’t always better. In
theory it is possible to keep a group of these in an aquarium, however it might not be the
best idea. As previously mentioned, these fish are hermaphroditic. The few that become
males have to aggressively maintain their place in the social order or else the highest
ranking female will turn into a male to challenge his standing. The aggression goes down all
the way to the lowest ranking female that unfortunately faces the abuse from all other
anthias. In massive schools you see in the wild, the aggression is more evenly dispersed,
but what will often happen in home aquariums is the lowest ranking female dies and then
the next, and then the next until you are only left with one or two females and a single
male. The tanks that tend to have the most success either have dozens of anthias or just
a few. Number Five! Feeding solves a lot of problems.
A varied diet fed frequently, will lower this aggression but is unlikely to completely eliminate
it. Anthias in the wild constantly feed on free swimming plankton to feed their high
metabolism and can run into issues in home aquariums that are fed only once a day.
The Aquarists have to make a judgment call on whether to potentially overfeed the tank
and strain the filtration or possibly underfeed and risk the health of the Anthias. For this
reason, the bigger the tank and filtration system the better. Ok, that pretty much does it for anthias…
hope you guys liked it. Thanks Louise for joining us again to talk about fish. She’s
Miss SaltwaterTank on youtube so if you haven’t seen her channel, go take a look. She’s
got a huge reef tank and is starting up a jelly fish aquarium. Happy reefing guys!

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