Territorial and reproductive behavior of the three Caribbean Razorfishes of the Genus Xyrichtys (Labridae) at Bonaire

David C. Shen and Eugenie Clark

aqua International Journal of Ichthyology,  pp. 33-59, Volume 22 issue 1, 15 January 2016

We conducted field studies of the three known species of Caribbean razorfishes of the genus Xyrichtys at four study sites in Bonaire during 1984, 1985, 1986, and 2013. At one site locally named “Red Slave,” a large colony of rosy razorfish, X. martinicensis and a small colony of green razorfish, X. splendens, were essentially the same during 1985 and 28 years later in 2013. At “Mi Cas,” all three species, X. martinicensis, X. splendens, and the pearly razorfish, X. novacula, were present both in 1984 and 29 years later in 2013. “Triple Whammy” in the Kralendijk harbor contained all three species in the mid-eighties, but in 2013 their presence could not be observed because diving in the harbor was prohibited. However, just south of the harbor at “Double Whammy,” the site that was only studied in 2013, did contain a small colony of X. martinicensis and one harem of X. splendens. All three species are antagonistic interspecifically and intraspecifically, defend their own territories, and have a pecking order based roughly on size. We mapped out colonies from individual territory borders to harem borders to colony borders. We observed their use of “dive sites,” spots in their sandy habitat within their own territory into which they would dive when in danger or for the night. Each fish had two or more of these “dive sites,” which they maintained. We observed 155, 57, and 94 spawnings of X. martinicensis, X. splendens, and X. novacula, respectively. Spawnings occurred in the late afternoon before sunset. There was some egg cannibalism among X. martinicensis and X. splendens, but not with X. novacula. We syringed eggs for lab observation and timed their hatching. Feeding behavior of each species as well as observed interactions with other species are discussed.

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