Spawning of pearlfishes has not been observed, and carapid reproductive behavior is poorly known. Some investigators have identified eggs collected in plankton samples by subsequent incubation in the laboratory. There also are a few reports of pearlfish species spawning in aquaria. In these cases, the scientists did not observe spawning directly but found eggs in tanks after periods of darkness. The eggs of pearlfishes are ellipsoid, usually containing an oil droplet and deposited into a jellylike, mucous matrix that floats at the surface. The egg mass has been described as oval, spherical, or somewhat flattened. Eggs hatch in one to two days. Early larvae are easily identified, since they possess a vexillum that first appears as a small protuberance but rapidly grows in length. Older pearlfish larvae have a long pig-mented and ornamented vexillum that often is damaged in collection. Pearlfish larvae are extremely elongate, reaching about 7.1 in (180 mm) in length, and possess a distinct small ring of melanophores on the snout. Larvae are remarkable, in that they undergo two separate growth phases: the first as vexillifer larvae that become very elongate and the second as tenuis larvae that shrink to about half their original length.
CONSERVATION STATUS Not listed by the IUCN.
Was this article helpful?