Anthias are members of the true bass family, Serranidae. This highly diverse marine group has 50 genera and over 400 species including anthias, groupers and soapfish.
Often called fairy basslets, which somehow seems more appropriate, anthias are found right around the world on tropical reefs. There’s a local form as far north as Japan and as far south as the Great Barrier Reef. They live in relatively shallow water and amongst hard and soft corals where there are plenty of nooks and crannies to retreat to. Yet these small fish also like to be in places that get some hefty waves – dashing about in the surge is probably their favoured form of exercise.
All fairy basslets live in a large group called a harem, sometimes with as many as 2000 in the group. Yet in amongst that vast number there will rarely be more than one adult male who sits at the top of a very specific pecking order. The overall shoal will consist primarily of juveniles and adult females. In some species there will also be a few non-territorial males. Rather like the eunuchs in the harem, these are greatly outnumbered by the juveniles and females.