Anthias are brilliantly colored plankton eaters. Their life begins as females. Most remain female their entire life, living in”harems” dominated by a single male. If the male dies, the top-ranking female becomes a male and takes his place in the harem.
Bicolor anthias are the most likely to be seen by divers, as other species (Thompson’s or Hawaiian Longfin) prefer waters deeper than 100 feet.
Males have a more intense coloration with a violet body and yellow running along the back through the upper caudal lobe. The females tend to be lavender in color with a yellow back and caudal fin. The dorsal fin of the male is edged in purple, and the first ray is elongated.
They are frequently found around coral heads. It is not unusual to see them swimming upside down under a ledge.
click any image to open slideshow; photos courtesy Mark Mahler and Sandy Strickland