Sparidae: L III C5

Pagellus natalensis Steindachner, 1902.

Sand soldier


Egg diameter in µm

Number of oil globules

Diameter of oil globule in µm

Yolk texture

Perivitelline space

Position of oil globule at hatch

Gut length   at eye- pigment stage








35% of NL



Egg: These eggs are usually collected with more in the blastula stage (morning spawning), than with a well developed embryo. When fresh the oil globule is pink, but becomes clear to pale amber later. There is a pair of bright yellow blotches behind the eyes, a cluster at the anus and another mid-tail. Sometimes there are a few yellow spots on the nose. Fine black spots run the length of the embryo dorsally. Incubation is 25-30 hours. Mature eggs tend to sink in seawater.

Larva: The three yellow pigment blotches of the early larva (B & C), are similar to P. grande (LIIIB10), but the smaller size of this egg and larva separates them.  The yellow mid-tail patch can barely be seen at 5 days on most specimens (D). The small crest, that is characteristic of Pagellus larvae (Houde et. al. 1986, Leis et. al. 2002), was developed by day 14 (E), and persisted through flexion, to still be present in the 30-day larva (H).   B: NH, C: 2 days, D: 5 days, E: 14 days, F: 19 days, G: 25 days, H: 30 days, I: 39 days (22-23°C).

This species proved quite easy to rear, and several batches were taken through to 30+ days, while trying to discover whether Chrysoblephus puniceus (LIIID5) and Cheimerius nufar (LIIID7) were amongst them. Only Pagellus was reared from these batches, but the possibility that it was easier to rear might have influenced the results. Eightyseven larvae have been sequenced for DNA barcoding so far, although a test to establish whether anaesthetising larvae with MS222 would adversely impact on DNA extraction, accounted for 24 of these from a single batch of eggs, and all barcoded as Pagellus. In addition, 63 larvae from routine collecting have been sequenced. Fourtyone of these matched Pagellus natalensis adults (BOLD). In addition, 5 matched Cheimerius nufar, 6 match Chrysoblephus puniceus, 4 match C. anglicus, 3 match Porcostoma dentata, 1 matches Polysteganus coeruleopunctatus, 1 matches Rhabdosargus thorpi and 8 match Diplodus capensis (BOLD).

This was the 4th most common egg off Park Rynie. Winter/spring was the main spawning season, with a peak in August and September (blue graph). The egg was seen on only 3 occasions in the DHM samples (green graph). Annual abundance in Park Rynie plankton samples has remained fairly steady (white graph). The Park Rynie paired samples had

Pairs Data Offshore Inshore
Eggs 32142 43588
Hits 381 479

more eggs inshore (58%), consistent with my diving observations that this species is abundant on sandy substrates from 15-30m water depth, in the area. See Section 7.3 and Table 1 of the Introductory Notes, for more information on the paired samples.