Aggressive male steentjie defending his territory

Steentjies in love

Steentjies are ordinary-looking silver fish with fascinating courtship rituals. Around breeding time the males body colouring changes to black stripes and their heads turn solid black, and they find an area of sand with something hard underneath. They use their tails to clear away the sand until they find bare rock or (in this video) an old piece of wooden board. These holes can be quite deep and very wide.


The male stays at his cleared away area and is visited by several females. He does not accept all of them. If he likes a female, a little courtship interaction takes place (watch how she changes colour on the top half of her body). When the eggs are finally laid on the rock or board (not shown here), the male fish guards them for some time, chasing away any creature (including divers) that comes too close.

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Scuba diver, teacher, gadget man, racing driver, boat skipper, photographer, and collector of stray animals

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