The Speckled sandperch (Parapercis hexophtalma) is a member of the Parapercis genus . They were once thought to be two separate species because of the discrepancy in looks between the males and the females.
The Speckled sandperch has a slightly compressed cylindrical body that tapers towards the rear. The eyes are set high on the head putting them close together. They have proportionately very fleshy lips. The dorsal fin extends back along the body and the anal fin which starts mid body is also proportionally long. The pelvic fins are also long.
The female pictured below has a series of speckles across the top of the body and a line of seven to eight vertical bars across the stomach. Yellow spots ringed in black are present on a varying number of these bars. The face is lightly speckled with small spots. The tail has a prominent black mark on it.
The male pictured above is larger than the female and has a series of speckles across the back. The bars on the stomach lighten and there are usually three yellow spots ringed in black low on the mid belly. The face has a series of yellow and black lines on it. In Tanzanian waters they seem to grow up to a maximum of 17 cm.
IN THE WILD
The Speckled sandperch are usually seen on sandy areas and rubble between the reef. They sit on the bottom perched on their pectoral fins and make darting dashes upwards. They appear to have exceptionally good eyesight. When approached by a diver they will usually sit on the bottom. If one gets too close they will dart off. They are often seen in pairs.
The Speckled sandperch is found across the Indo West Pacific area. They are usually found on sandy and rubble areas in-between reefs. Commonly seen at around 12 to 18 meters in Tanzanian waters.
The Speckled sandperch feed on zooplankton, small crustaceans and fish.
Little is known of this species mating habits. As with most sand perches they are sequential hermaphrodites, starting their adult lives as females and later becoming males, probably triggered by social cues. There are many more female’s around than males and each male retains a harem of two to three females. Spawning takes place at dusk. The male and female swim off the bottom and disperse eggs and sperm into the water table.
Speckled sandperch are ambush predators and are not commonly kept in aquariums.
SPECKLED SANDPERCH CLASSIFICATION
- The Reef Guide fishes, corals, nudibranchs & other invertebrates: East and South Coasts of Southern Africa by Dennis King & Valda Fraser