Tosanoides aphrodite

Geographic Range

Tosanoides aphrodite, also known as Aphrodite anthias, has been found only in a collection of small islands located off the coast of Northeastern Brazil known as St.Paul's Rocks. This species has yet to be found in any other location and is the first member of its genus to be found in the Mid-Atlantic Range. All previously identified species in this genus are only known to occur in the Pacific Ocean. (Rocha and Rocha, 2018)


Aphrodite anthias has only been collected once to date. These fish have been found living in the mesophotic coral ecosystem of St.Paul's Rocks. They inhabit small crevices among the complex rocky reefs. Because they are near the Atlantic ridge, these reefs have relatively shallow waters and serve as a refuge from the deep ocean that surrounds them. (Rocha and Rocha, 2018)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • reef
  • Range depth
    100 to 260 m
    328.08 to 853.02 ft
  • Average depth
    120 m
    393.70 ft

Physical Description

Aphrodite anthias have slender bodies, with a short snout and a large, oblique mouth. These fish have a pair of pores lying between their eyes, near the anterior margins of their nostrils. Eight to ten additional pores line the posterior margin of their eyes. The teeth in their upper jaws are villiform, accompanied by two canines on each side. The color of this species depends on sex. Males have a pinkish red body color that fades to white toward their ventral sides. They also have bright yellow and pink alternating stripes along their anterior ends, changing to spots on their posterior ends. Females and juveniles have predominantly red-orange bodies with a thin red stripe from their dorsal sides to their tail fins. Yellow and red stripes extend along their anterior ends. Their eyes are greenish yellow. They are typically between 46.2 and 67.9 mm in length, with the male Aphrodite anthias being slightly larger. (Rocha and Rocha, 2018)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • male more colorful
  • Range length
    46.2 to 86.9 mm
    1.82 to 3.42 in
  • Average length
    67.9 mm
    2.67 in


Details of the specific development of Aphrodite anthias are not well known. However, the general subfamily these fish belong to (Anthiadinae) is better documented in their stages of life. Fish in this subfamily develop from eggs, and eventually hatch into yolk sac fry. These larvae eventually absorb the yolk attached to them and start feeding for themselves. In the juvenile stage, fish in this subfamily begin to more closely resemble their adult form. These fish are considered adult when they reach sexual maturity. Fish in the subfamily Anthiadinae are hermaphroditic. All are born female, developing into males only when the dominant male of the social order is removed from the environment. ("Review of Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Anthiine Fishes with Descriptions of Two New Genera", 2012)


Species in the subfamily Anthiadinae generally have a mating system in which one large dominant male mates with a group of smaller females. Though Aphrodite anthias have not been studied heavily, it is expected that these fish fertilize eggs externally. However, since they are hermaphroditic, the production of eggs and sperm is possible in any individual (only one at a time). If the male in a social group dies or is otherwise removed, the largest female in the group will develop into a male and begin producing male gametes within two weeks. All individuals of this species have both testes and ovaries, the size and activity of which depend upon the sex of the individual. ("Review of Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Anthiine Fishes with Descriptions of Two New Genera", 2012)

Fish in the subfamily Anthiadinae utilize a method of broadcast spawning, in which they release a large number of eggs, which are spread by tidal currents. These species live in small social groups with one larger male and several smaller females. There is certain "courting" behaviors that happen, but in general, the dominant male breeds with all of the females. ("Review of Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Anthiine Fishes with Descriptions of Two New Genera", 2012)

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • sequential hermaphrodite
  • broadcast (group) spawning

Because their eggs are fertilized externally and then carried off by tidal currents, there is little parental investment. If there is any interaction between parents and their offspring once they are mature, it is unintentional. ("Review of Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Anthiine Fishes with Descriptions of Two New Genera", 2012)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement


Aphrodite anthias have yet to be studied after its discovery. The lifespan of this species is likely quite similar to that of closely-related species. Tosanoides flavofasciatus, a species that uses similar habitats and has a similar life cycle, has a lifespan of approximately 0.2 to 0.7 years. However, the lifespan for Tosanoides aphrodite is an estimate not yet backed by scientific measurement. ("Review of Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Anthiine Fishes with Descriptions of Two New Genera", 2012; Rocha and Rocha, 2018)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    0.2 to 0.7 years


Not much is known about the behavior of Tosanoides aphrodite. These fish are mobile organism that live in small groups, consisting of a single male and multiple females. They live in coral reefs in the Atlantic Ocean and are not known to migrate. This assumption is not proven, but this species has only been found in one area so far. (Thompson, 2018)

Communication and Perception

There is no information on how Aphrodite anthias communicate. However, as a member of the class Actinopterygii, they likely perceive their environment in the five major ways that most ray-finned fishes do: vision, mechanoreception, chemoreception, electroreception, and magnetic reception. Vision is the most important of these methods of perception. These fish likely use vision as their primary method of navigating their environment and perceiving communications from other members of their species.

Food Habits

The only information that can be provided for Aphrodite anthias regarding their feeding habits is that of their class (Actinopterygii). Members of this class are almost all carnivorous, which means that Tosanoides aphrodite is possibly carnivorous too. Given their smaller size, it is likely that they prey on microscopic organisms, such as zooplankton or fish larvae.


Aphrodite anthias have not been studied thoroughly and therefore little is known about their role as prey items. Because they are small fish, it is likely that they serve as prey items to larger fish and other aquatic animals. (Rocha and Rocha, 2018)

Ecosystem Roles

It is not known what roles Aphrodite anthias play in their ecosystem. However zooplanktivorous fishes, in general, affect the type and quantity of zooplankton within their ecosystems. The presence of zooplanktivorous fishes in an ecosystem can drastically change species diversity by decimating zooplankton populations or, conversely, allowing for unregulated growth. The interactions that Aphrodite anthias have with their potential prey are likely highly important to the ecosystem when considering the microscopic organisms in their environment. Again, this is an assumption of the species and there is no actual evidence to know the exact role Aphrodite anthias plays in its ecosystem. (Greshko, 2018; Thompson, 2018)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

As Tosanoides aphrodite is not known to be an abundant species, they do not have any known impact on humans. They have not been used as a food source for humans. Because of their bright color, it is likely that they may one day be a popular fish in home aquariums, however they are still a wild species not for sale in fish markets.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Tosanoides aphrodite on humans.

Conservation Status

Tosanoides aphrodite is not yet on any endangered list. However, as a marine species, they will likely be impacted by the drastic changes occuring in oceans due to climate change. These fish have only been seen once, so it is likely that their populations are quite small.


Faith Cunningham (author), Colorado State University, Kate Gloeckner (editor), Colorado State University, Genevieve Barnett (editor), Colorado State University, Galen Burrell (editor), Special Projects.


Atlantic Ocean

the body of water between Africa, Europe, the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), and the western hemisphere. It is the second largest ocean in the world after the Pacific Ocean.

World Map


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


uses electric signals to communicate


(as perception channel keyword). This animal has a special ability to detect the Earth's magnetic fields.


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


having more than one female as a mate at one time


condition of hermaphroditic animals (and plants) in which the female organs and their products appear before the male organs and their products


structure produced by the calcium carbonate skeletons of coral polyps (Class Anthozoa). Coral reefs are found in warm, shallow oceans with low nutrient availability. They form the basis for rich communities of other invertebrates, plants, fish, and protists. The polyps live only on the reef surface. Because they depend on symbiotic photosynthetic algae, zooxanthellae, they cannot live where light does not penetrate.

saltwater or marine

mainly lives in oceans, seas, or other bodies of salt water.


uses sight to communicate


animal constituent of plankton; mainly small crustaceans and fish larvae. (Compare to phytoplankton.)


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