Monogamy, spawning and skin-shedding of the sea moth, Eurypegasus draconis (Pisces: Pegasidae)
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- Herold, D. & Clark, E. Environ Biol Fish (1993) 37: 219. doi:10.1007/BF00004630
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The Red Sea seamoth, Eurypegasus draconis, has a social structure that involves close pair-bonding with a monogamous mating system. The occurrence of 61 specimens, 95.1% paired, were recorded in the Gulf of Aqaba, during summers 1989 and 1990. Fourteen pairs were tagged and seven of them were seen again at least once. Cumulative location maps for tagged individuals showed that they were not territorial or site-attached, home ranges of pairs overlapped, they had low mobility, and occurred in low densities. Dissections and histological analyses showed that pairs (n = 12) were heterosexual and all individuals were sexually mature. E. draconis is sexually dimorphic. Females (n = 13) have significantly larger carapace volumes than males (n = 13). In aquaria, pairs spawned repetitively at dusk. At the peak of a spawning rise they released pelagic eggs from which embryos hatched in 24–29h at 27.2°C. Unpaired individuals probably have little opportunity to meet and mate. Close pair-bonding that ensures the availability of a mate, probably evolved as a style for increasing reproductive success in these small fish that occur in low density. E. draconis sheds its skin in one piece every 1 to 5 days.