Picarel - Spicara smaris
Spicara smaris in italian Zerro, are those little fish that practically always accompany us in our dives to which we often do not give too much importance since we always hope to find more important species to film and photograph.
In reality they are among those fish that approach the diver as soon as it arrives on the seabed sharing it with other species such as bream, sea-bream, black and red damselfish, and well represent those that in some way are the reef fish of the Mediterranean Sea.
Spicara smaris (Linnaeus, 1758), commonly known as zerro, is a marine bony fish of the Centracanthidae family.
Habitat and distribution
Zerro is found in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, from Portugal to the Canary Islands, in the Mediterranean Sea, in the Black Sea and in the South of the Azov Sea. It is very common in the Mediterranean and in the Italian seas.
It is found mainly on Posidonia oceanica meadows but also on sandy or muddy bottoms, rarely on rock. It usually frequents depths between 15 and 70 meters deep but was captured at 328 meters in the eastern Ionian Sea.
It is similar to the mennola in its general appearance although it has duller colors, smaller and more numerous scales and a visibly more slender and tapered shape. The mouth, as in all Centracanthidae, can be extended into a tube. The dorsal fin is lower than in the mennola, it has a uniform height along the entire length. The background color is more or less dark gray on the back (never blue as in the mennola) and silvery on the sides, in the middle of which there is a rectangular black spot as in the mennola.
The fins are yellowish, clear; the caudal fin sometimes has reddish reflections. In adult males there are more or less vertical bluish lines; in females, dark vertical bands can be seen, usually not very distinct. In the breeding season, both sexes have a dark spot at the beginning of the dorsal fin. It does not exceed 20 cm in length.
It lives in banks, often very numerous, of specimens all of the same size. In the period of the scrub it becomes lonely.
At birth they are all females and subsequently all become males, the dimorphism is characterized by both color and size. Spawning occurs in winter and spring. All individuals smaller than 13 cm are female, all those larger than 15 cm male.
It mainly feeds on zooplankton, crustaceans and annelids.