Most of the time that we report on hybrid marine and reef fish, it is usually about a particular specimen which shows the traits of both parents, as a result of a crossbreeding. In this case we have a splendid video of the illustrious Rhinopias scorpionfish from two species getting its jungle fever on.
This pair of Rhinopias was filmed in Indonesia by Steffan Kilby and it was quite a momentous time for him as an underwater videographer. Rhinopias are very rare creatures to see in the wild, so chancing upon a pair is doubly momentous. For this occasion the documented spawning ascent was incredibly lucky to capture two different species doing the spawning ascent.
The two species featured in this spawning video are the light colored paddle flap scorpionfish, Rhinopias eschmeyeri, and the redder and more adorned weedy scorpionfish, Rhinopias frondosa. As with all acts of mating, the foreplay takes up the majority of the activity with the actual spawning ascent only taking a few seconds.
While the spawning itself was successful showing a clear ejection of sperm and the bundled, floating egg raft, there is no way to know whether this particular cross resulted in a successful mating. The next time you see an unusual Rhinopias specimen that shows the traits of two different species, now you know that the species do actually cross breed in the wild and there’s probably a lot more hybridization going on in this group of fish than we realize.