Reproductive Biology

Reproduction has been observed in the wild in this species. (Aquarium-bred specimens take some two years to reach adult size.) Females have greatly swollen trunks before spawning. Males carry a brood containing an estimated 250-300 elliptical eggs underneath their tails, posterior to the anal fins. The eggs, which measure 0.3 by 0.2 in (7 by 4 mm), are maintained in honeycomb-like egg pockets in the abdominal skin of the males. Pregnant males usually are seen in November or December. The tail of the male becomes swollen and turns bright yellow to indicate readiness to mate, at which time sperm are released into the abdominal region. The courtship ritual is similar to that of some pipefishes (in which the abdominal area is displayed to the mate, while the head is maintained in an upright position). The female deposits her eggs onto the abdominal region of the male, pushing them into place. At that point, egg pockets form on the male to fasten the eggs securely in place. Incubation takes about eight weeks. Males deposit hatchlings in a wide area, as hatching takes about one week. Hatchlings are advanced and settle on the bottom (at about 1.4 in, or 35 mm, in length), sometimes remaining in small groups and venturing into shallower water.

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