Discovered as early as 1758, Anthias – Anthiinae, by their scientific name – are species of small, colorful fish belonging to the Serranidae family. This is the same family that groupers, bass, and other well-known fish species originate from. Although not as prevalent as most groupers, anthias are well-known in the circles of researchers studying reef fish. In fact, these fish make up a large percentage of the population of small pink and orange reef fish. They feed mainly on zooplankton, and can form complex, fascinating social structures in order to adapt to their surroundings as efficiently as possible.
Most anthias are quite unique in color and texture and have been counted among the most fascinating attractions for divers and snorkeling enthusiasts for a long time. They feature small, slightly elongated bodies with distinct contrasting color patterns – usually a combination of white, yellow, orange, or pink. Also known as goldies, fancy basslets, or wrekfish, they are classified in about half a dozen different genera, collectively known as anthias. It is worth mentioning that the Anthiinae subfamily is extremely diverse. More than 200 known species of anthias exist, all of them believed to be hermaphrodites and most being known as similar in size and shape, while being distinctly different in their color patterns.
In the case of Anthias, Anthiinae experts have observed the reproduction patterns of these fish to be very similar to those of most groupers as well as other species and groups belonging to the family Serranidae. The species are born female and only certain members develop into males later on for the purpose of procreation. The stronger females of the group are usually the ones that go through the transformation process. Later, if the dominant male perishes, the next female in the group develops into a male in order to assume leadership and perpetuate the reproduction cycle.
Anthias are considered to be some of the most beautiful and diverse sub-families of fish in the world. Their vibrant colors form dynamic patterns that enrich the coral reefs of most tropical oceans and seas in the world. The most well-known species found in the presence of corals are Holanthias, Pseudanthias, Plectranthias, and Serranocirrhitus. Many of the most prevalent species of Anthias, Anthiinae experts affirm, can be found in the Mediterranean Sea and the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, having been observed for centuries in schools of thousands of specimens – most of them also form smaller groups within the schools, known as harems.