The carpenter is a small, elongated sea bream with a silver-pink body and faint, pale blue spots arranged in several horizontal bands along its sides.

It is a predator, with pronounced canines that it uses to prey on sardines, anchovies and squid. As a juvenile it feeds primarily on crabs, amphipods and polychaetes.

The carpenter is endemic to rocks reefs on the South African coast from Cape Point to Margate, and migrates to the Agulhas bank to spawn. Most adults are resident to a preferred area, but a small portion of carpenters disperse widely.

Due to historic overfishing, the carpenter saw a significant decline in its population until limitations were placed on its commercial fishery in 2003. Since then, wild populations are slowly recovering.

What is a sea bream?

Fish of the family Sparidae are often referred to as "sea breams", "porgies" or "sparids". These approximately 100 species are all deep-bodied, compressed and have small mouths on the bottom of their heads, i.e. there is a large distance between their eyes and their mouths. Their tail fins are usually forked.

Sparids are generally dull silver, brown or reddish colours. When rare coloured patterns are present, the most common layout is a series of horizontal stripes that become duller with age.

Most species have some form of molar in their mouth which can be used to grind the shells of molluscs and crustaceans, and all have some sort of grinding apparatus in their pharyngeal jaws. They also all have small canines or incisors to supplement the molars.

All "sparids" are carnivores, feeding on bottom-dwelling invertebrates and fish. Because of their dependence on the sea floor, they usually inhabit shallow waters. They typically prefer temperate or sub-tropical waters and are found in greatest diversity along the African coast - 41 of their 100 species are native to South African waters.

Most sparids are gonochoristic which means that their species has two distinct sexes and that individuals are biologically one or the other. In a few rare species, they display sequential hermaphroditism, where they start as one sex and change into the other with age.

Other examples of porgies and sea breams that you can often find at the Two Oceans Aquarium are the zebra, santer, black musselcracker, seventy-four and dageraad.


Species Facts

  • Also known as a Kapenaar, doppie and silverfish.
  • Grows up to 90cm long and 4.1kg.
  • Can live for 30 years.