Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
Early juvenile markings: New recruits (10-15 mm SL) of S. variabilis have a pattern of blue stripes and spots on the head and upper body with two spots and a stripe on the iris. The upper part of the head and anterior body have a dusky blue background color. There is a large black ocellus ringed in blue centered on the last two dorsal-fin spines and first three dorsal-fin soft rays. The ocellus is typically 50% on the fin and 50% on the body. The blue edging below the ocellus on the body is usually an intact blue line and it comes close to the lateral line (usually less than one scale away). There is a characteristic blue-edged black saddle-spot on the caudal peduncle just behind the last dorsal-fin ray.
Later juveniles (over 20 mm SL) are are yellow with a blue (often bright blue) upper head and anterior body and dorsal fin with numerous iridescent blue stripes and spots, a dorsal-fin ocellus over the body and fin (moving off the body when large juveniles over 30 mm SL), and a prominent black caudal-peduncle saddle.