The body is oval and flattened at the sides. The mouth is rather small, more or less protruding, with rather strong fangs. There are several head pores on the muzzle; lips with 6-9 wrinkles. The head is generally longer than the depth of the body. The dorsal fin is very long, reaching almost to the tail. Both sexes have a small dark spot at the base of the caudal fin and a dark spot just above the pectoral fin. There are also many dark spots on the body, forming 3 or 4 longitudinal stripes. Colouration usually reflects sexual dimorphism. Females and juveniles are grey-greenish or brownish, becoming silvery on the belly. There is little difference in colouration between immature males and mature females. Males are more brightly coloured, especially during the breeding season. They are pale green, green-blue or green-yellow, with longitudinal rows of red spots, the top of the head is dark blue.
It inhabits the Mediterranean Sea and adjacent waters of the Atlantic Ocean (from the Bay of Biscay to Morocco), the Marmara and Black Seas, and the Kerch Strait.
This gregarious coastal fish is found on rocky reefs covered with seaweed, on seagrass beds, around rocks surrounded by seaweed and can also be found in the brackish waters of lagoons. It is found at depths from 1 to 50 m (3.3 to 164.0 ft).
Can grow to 44 cm (17 inches) in length, although most do not exceed 25 cm (9.8 inches). Weighs up to 290g.
Life history and Behavior
Spawning occurs in spring. Nests are made of seaweed and are round or oval in shape, 10-20 cm in diameter. Several females lay eggs in one nest, while the males guard the clutches. Life expectancy is up to 14-15 years.
Food and feeding habits
Feeds on sea urchins, brittle stars, mussels, shrimps and crabs.
Spawns in April-May, laying round eggs on algae and other underwater vegetation. Fecundity of females 175-260 mm long is 12300-57800 eggs. Eggs, as in other species of the genus, are benthic and hatch in several, 3-4 portions. Embryonic development lasts 121-200 hours at temperatures close to natural conditions, in the Mediterranean it is twice as short - 4 days.
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|Threat to people
|Way of eating