The red porgy has a fascinating life history; all individuals start life as females, and then some change sex to become functional males (4). This sex transition may take place when the red porgy is a juvenile or, more commonly, after the age of three years (7), with some individuals not changing until the female is 6.5 years old (8). Sex change in fish is normally trigged by environmental or social factors, but what exactly triggers sex change in the red porgy is not known (8).
In the western Atlantic, the red porgy spawns during winter and early spring (4) (7), while in the Mediterranean, spawning takes place from spring until summer (4). Females are believed to produce eggs throughout the spawning season, releasing around 55 batches of eggs into the surrounding waters each year (7). Sea temperatures between 16 and 22 degrees Celsius are optimum for spawning in the red porgy (4). Between 28 and 38 hours after the eggs have been fertilised by the male’s sperm, the eggs hatch. The resulting larvae are transported by ocean currents for 30 days or more (9), before settling on the sea bottom (7). The red porgy develops at a rather fast rate for the first four years of life, with the growth rate slowing significantly as sexual maturity is reached (4). These fish are known to live for up to 18 years (9).
Red porgy are carnivorous fish (3) (6), which tend to feed in schools on a variety of marine animals found on the ocean floor. Their strong teeth enable them to eat snails, crabs and sea urchins, as well as worms and small fishes (3).