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Eastern Blue Devil Fish
The Eastern Blue Devil Fish (Paraplesiops bleekeri) is also known as the Bleakers Blue Devil Fish.
It is a shy, secretive fish that is found inside caves and under ledges in inshore reefs in NSW estuaries and offshore waters from three to 30 metres. It occurs on the east coast from southern Queensland to Montague Island but is most common in NSW from Sydney southwards to Ulladulla. Around Sydney, it occurs in the more saline parts of estuaries, along with the rocky coastline and around offshore islands.
They are fecund breeders, however, juveniles are rarely seen. They are often solitary and are most active during the night, but little is known about their diet. The Eastern blue devil fish is listed as a protected fish in NSW, and there are heavy penalties for taking, selling or possessing them.
The Eastern blue devil fish is most easily recognised by its bands of blue and white on the body, blue spotted head, blue dorsal and anal fins and yellow caudal (tail) fin and base and pectoral fins. The pelvic fins and posterior dorsal and anal fins are elongated. When the blue devil fish spreads these fins they overlap, making the fish appear larger.
It is thought that the male defends a territory in a cave or overhang in order to attract a mate and will drive other males away. They mate in spring. The breeding season for the Eastern blue devil is between October and March. The species lays its eggs in a group or nest that is glued to the roof of a cave until they hatch. Free-swimming larvae, about 4mm long, hatch from the eggs and settle around reef areas when they have grown to about 10mm. It grows to 40cm in length.
Why are Eastern blue devil fish protected?
• Eastern blue devil fish are protected because of their natural rarity and low abundance.
• The main threat to Eastern blue devil fish is collection and trade for marine aquariums.
Taking or possessing Eastern blue devil fish (or any other species of protected fish) is an offence and heavy penalties apply. For corporations, these penalties can include fines of up to $55 000 while individuals can face fines of up to $11 000 and up to 3 months in prison.