Body moderately deep and compressed. Dorsal fin continuous, its rays longer than its spines. Caudal fin rounded. Anal rays progressively longer until penultimate, last ray shorter. First pelvic rays very long in males, much shorter in females. Head profile straight to slightly concave in large males. Mouth terminal with distinct lips. Anterior of jaw with two pairs of recurved canines teeth. The second pair curves outward. Preoperculum serrated, number of serrae increases with fish growth. Cycloid scales.
body brown-red to greenish yellow with elongated dark brown-red spots along lateral line. Black spot on the upper part of the first 2-4 interspinous dorsal membrane. Conspicuous black blotch on the operculum with yellow ring near its edge.
common 5-8 cm (max. 11 cm).
The shape and the color patterns of this species differ significantly from all other Mediterranean species.
BIOLOGY / ECOLOGY
Feeds on small benthic invertebrates. Eggs and larvae planktonic. Clear sexual dimorphism, male larger more colorful with filamentous first pelvic ray reaching at least the middle of anal fin base.
coastal waters, usually with seagrass to depth of 35 m.