Painted Comber – Serranus scriba

The Painted Comber is a species in the order of the Perciformes and thus belongs to the superclass of the bony fish.

Painted Comber - Serranus scriba Martin Osteichthyes bony fish diving canary islands species atlantic ocean
Painted Comber – Serranus scriba
Copyright: Martin Majewski


Serranus scriba has a white colour with thick, dark brown to black stripes on the body. Its head is brown-white patterned. The pattern resembles Arabic characters. Therefore, he also has his name. Breast and tail fins have an intense yellow colour.

The body is elongated and laterally compressed. The mouth of the Painted Comber reaches as far as its eye, and the lower jaw surpasses the upper jaw.

It reaches a maximum length of 36cm.

Habitat and Distribution

The Painted Comber is preferably seen above rocky ground and in sea grass meadows, down to a depth of 150m.

When diving in the Canaries it can be observed sometimes. Its distribution range extends in the eastern Atlantic from the Gulf of Biskaya in Spain, across the Azores, along the African coast, to Senegal. It is also found in the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.

Way of life

Serranus scriba lives solitaire and territorial. It defends its territory aggressively against other specimens. It is often found in fissures or under stones from where they hunt. Their prey consists of crustaceans, worms, cephalopods, snails and small fish up to 10cm in length.

The reproduction of the Painted Comber takes place from late spring to early summer. Serranus scriba is a real hermaphrodite. That means, they can simultaneously form egg cells and sperm cells and are able to fertilize themselves, if there is no partner found. The eggs are attached under stones close to the shore.

It has maximum proved age of 16 years.

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