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Habitat and EcologyHabitat and Ecology
It feeds on small gastropods, sea urchins, worms, shrimps, isopods and amphipods. Small individuals are known to clean other fishes.
It reaches sexual maturity at one year and is a protogynous hermaphrodite with pronounced sexual dimorphism (Golani et al. 2006). The females change to males before reaching 18 cm in length. All individuals above 18 cm in length are males (Muus and Nielsen 1999). Sex change can take from several weeks up to 5.5 months (Sadovy and Shapiro 1987, Reinboth 1962, Muus and Nielsen 1999).
It reproduces from May to August. Larger terminal phase males hold territories and spawn sequentially with haremic females, smaller terminal phase males can live in groups up to several tens of individuals. Initial phase males live and spawn in large groups, pelagic spawning and eggs (P. Afonso pers. comm. 2008).
Mediterranean and Atlantic populations show strong morphological and genetic differentiation (Aurelle et al. 2003).