Q is for Queen


A-Z Photographic Glossary of Biological Terms challenge!

Just like the letter J, finding a biological term starting with Q proved to be rather difficult, and using a wildlife photo to illustrate either an elementary particle within a neutron (quark) or the structure of certain proteins (quaternary) is pretty much impossible!

So today it is Q for Queen as illustrated by this Queen Angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris) from Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean, “All Hail the Queen!”

This angelfish gets its name for the “crown” visible on its forehead; although quite large (this one was about 15″ long) they are quite shy, emerging from behind branching corals when defending their territory or in search of the algae and sponges that make up most of their diet; they also feed on tunicates, jellyfish, and corals as well as plankton. Juveniles serve as “cleaners” and feed on the parasites of larger fish at cleaning stations.

The adults are found in pairs year round forming long-term monogamous bonds. The pairs reproduce by rising up in the water, bringing their bellies close together, and releasing clouds of sperm and eggs. The female can release anywhere from 25 to 75 thousand eggs each evening and as many as ten million eggs during each spawning cycle. The eggs are transparent and buoyant and float in the sea, hatching after about 15-20 hours into larvae and about 48 hours later, having absorbed their yolk sac, the larvae develop the normal characteristics of free swimming fish and start to feed on plankton. The larvae grow rapidly and about 3–4 weeks after hatching the 2cm long juveniles settle on the bottom.


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