Species Feature: Mouthbrooders

I looooovvvvveee mouthbrooding fish

For a long time I knew about mouthbrooding fish from photos but had never spotted one.  I guess you don’t know what you are looking for until you’ve seen it.  Then a few years ago in Greece my partner starts pointing at his regulator, then pulls out his reg and points in his mouth, and did a couple other silly hand gestures until I realized he found a mouthbrooding fish.  He scored major brownie points with me that day!!  Since then I think I’ve acquired radar for mouthbrooders as I’m always checking the mouths of any species I know mouthbroods.

Marine mouthbrooding fish are usually males incubating the eggs, and more often than not it is cardinalfish which are the mouthbrooders I spot.  They aren’t easy to photograph either because once you find them they often hide behind rocks or coral and like to point their heads in the opposite direction, only turning for a split second before moving behind a different rock or running away from you.  Of note is the Banggai cardinalfish which mouthbroods not only the eggs but the young for several days after they hatch out.  There are also two photos of mouthbrooding jawfish, which are sweet little fish that live in holes in the sand.