The Royal Soapfish

The Royal Soapfish



The grouper and the anthias and the soapfish have been affectionally labelled as the ‘Queens of the Red Sea’. They are part of the ‘royal’ family of the Serranidae. The beautiful soapfish has been assigned to the subfamily of Grammistinae. They have a slimy skin that is capable of producing a bitter toxic substance called grammistin. It comes in the substance of mucus, protecting the fish from predation. So the soapfish exudes a mucus coating that is toxic to other fish.  The poisonous slime, excreted from the skin, produces a white lather substance, hence the name soapfish. The soapfish tends to be more secretive than other members of the Serranidae. It prefers caves and ledges to lead a quiet life.

Family Members

Red Sea Soapfish

Size up to 14 cm (0,46ft). Depth up to 40m (131ft)

The Red Sea soapfish has an elegant and slender body, adorned with  yellow mask or more precisely a yellow band, covering its two eyes. It seeks shelter in rocky and coral reefs to depths up to 40m. It also frequents steep coral-rich slopes once the sun has set in and when it abandons its hiding places for a patrol mission. The nocturnal Red Sea soapfish is kind of ‘sneaky’, judging by its ambushing routine to snatch small fishes and crustaceans, obscured by large non predatory fishes it swims alongside with. The various shades of blue colours, ranging from dodger blue to marine blue, are simply graceful and stunning. They venture in pairs or as a solitaire.

Six-Striped/Lined Soapfish

Size up to 25 cm (0,82ft). Depth up to 40m (131ft)

Here we have the middle sized six-striped soapfish, also going by the name of gold-striped soapfish. And not for nothing. Its black to dark chocolate brown body carries six golden to milky white lateral stripes.  These stripes tend to break up as an effect of aging. It houses in holes at the base of coral reefs, seeking shelter as a matter of fact. This soapfish is carnivorous, or piscivorous more specifically, because it has appetite for fish only. The nocturnal six striped/lined soapfish crowds coastal rocky reefs, generally solitary.