Behavior

The Ambassidae gathers in aggregations, some times quite large, under shelter. At night, these fishes become active and disperse as they feed. Fishes of the family Polyprionidae are probably territorial and patrol rather large home ranges. Within the Serranidae, the subfamilies Serraninae and Epi-nephelinae are largely solitary and territorial. Species that form haremic mating systems have multiple territories within that of a single male. Most species make good use of shelter or the bottom, from where they can avoid predation and also ambush prey. Some species are active swimmers in the water column, however. Many fairy basslet species (Anthiinae) aggregate in the water column but seek shelter on the bottom or against the faces of steep reef slopes, while others move, often cryptically, along the bottom. Males are territorial. Soapfishes (Diploprionini and Grammistini) and Swissguard basslets (Li-opropomini) hover or rest in caves and holes, although some species move freely through the water column just above the bottom. These fishes seem to be more active at night. The Callanthiidae hovers in the water column singly or in groups, but the Grammatidae, Pseudochromidae, and Plesiopidae all tend to hide in holes, under rocks or corals, or in some other form of shelter, where they wait to ambush prey. Many colorful pseudochromids hover outside of their shelters, however. The Plesiopidae forages outside of shelter at night as well. Fishes in these families tend to be territorial. The behavior of the Glaucosomatidae is not well known. Members of this family shelter in caves or holes when approached and are likely to patrol a territory or home range. Adults and juveniles tend to move to shallower waters seasonally during cooler months. Jawfishes (Opistognathidae) excavate burrows with their large mouths and use them for shelter and nesting sites. When not in a burrow, they may be seen hovering above it in the water column; they enter the burrow tail first.

The Priacanthidae and the Apogonidae generally associate with structure during daylight but move into the water column to forage at night. Their relatively large eyes are used to detect both prey and predators. The Sillaginidae forages singly or in aggregations on sand or mud bottoms. The Mala-canthidae lives singly, in pairs, or in haremic social groups and excavates burrows in the sand, where these fishes live when they are not hovering in the water column. Some of these burrows are distinguished by rather large mounds of rubble. The Rachycentridae is active in open water but will associate with structure. The Carangidae moves singly, in pairs or small aggregations, or in large schools either along the bottom or up in the water column. The Menidae forages in schools. The Leiognathidae forms schools and forages over the bottom during daylight; at night, these fishes move into the water column and may communicate with one another (directly or indirectly) by light flashes generated by bioluminescent organs on their throats.

Little is known about the behavior of the Bramidae because of the depths in which they live. Presumably, they form aggregations or schools that move up and down in the water column during night and day, respectively, as they follow their prey. The Lutjanidae hides under shelter, hovers in the water column, or forms aggregations that move lazily over the bottom. Some species are territorial and others patrol home ranges. The Caesionidae forms aggregations or schools that swim actively in the water column. A number of species appear to be able to change their color patterns behaviorally. Lobotidae juveniles and young adults often swim on their sides and hover under floating vegetation or logs, and may mimic leaves as well. Adults tend to be solitary. The Ger-reidae forms small or large aggregations and forages actively along the bottom. The Haemulidae, depending upon the species, occurs singly or forms small or large aggregations. Members of this family seek shelter under ledges or in large holes during daylight but forage after dark. Alternately, they may form aggregations that swim lazily along the reef. Some aggregating species make daily migrations at dawn and dusk, and knowledge of the paths of these migration routes is transmitted culturally within social groups. The Dinopercidae shelters during daylight but likely moves about after dark. Members of this family can make a drumming sound by contracting muscles; the sound of the contraction is amplified by the swim bladder. The Lethrinidae moves singly, in small aggregations, or in large schools along the bottom; some species swim or hover up in the water column. The Ne-mipteridae either swims singly or in aggregations well up in the water column, rather like the Caesionidae, or these fishes dart about or hover alone or in groups just above the bottom. The Polynemidae swims just above the bottom, and these fishes use their specialized pelvic fins to detect prey as they forage. Their behavior is not well known. The Sci-aenidae occurs singly or in groups, sometimes large aggregations, and members of the family swim actively along the bottom as they search for prey. As with the Dinopercidae, these fishes can communicate by the production of drumming sounds. Their hearing is well developed, too, which is useful for detecting prey, predators, and conspecifics (other members of the same species).

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