Not enough stripes for a Sargeant Major

Feeling quite proud of myself for designing my own cross stitch,  I was going to blog about the Sargeant  Major fish – that’s what I used for the design.  So I turn to google and Wikipedia for interesting snippets and find to my embarrassment I have not drawn/stitched enough stripes, so my fish is more of a Corporal then a Sargeant.  

These fish are all over the local sea – 5 vertical black stripes with yellow between or occasionally blue-grey colour, which is apparently the brooding male.  Last year we had a solitary one around our local rock, Redshank Island, but this year we have three at least and they have grown to about 4 inches.  

Now this may be considered cheating but when you go snorkelling take some bread with you because these little fish will eat from your hand and follow you about once they know you are feeding them. 

The proper name for them is Abudefduf saxatilis.  They were first named in 1758. I learned today that they have just one nostril either side of their face, unlike the related angel fish which have two – can’t say I have noticed, but I guess I hadn’t actually realised that fish had nostrils in any case ( clearly something lacking with my biology education, but it might have been that I was not paying attention).  

Late May and early June are the spawning season for these fish – probably so for many of Bermudian fish – it depends on water temperature.  The males turn a bright blue and several females will lay their eggs in the nest that a male has prepared. Incubation period is just 4 days until small larvae hatch out.  These, however, unlike the grown-ups, are very fussy eaters, demanding a particular copepod, a small crustacean, upon which they feed voraciously until day 20 when they begin to resemble the adult fish, just really cute miniature versions of them. 

Now I haven’t told any of my visitors this, but I did see it reported that Sargeant majors sometimes attack and bite – the specifics to the tale were a diver cleaning an aquarium tank and I believe the outcome did not entail loss of limb or life.  


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