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History of Animals   


Some fishes breed at all seasons, as the muraena. This animal
lays a great number of eggs at a time; and the young when hatched
are very small but grow with great rapidity, like the young of the
hippurus, for these fishes from being diminutive at the outset grow
with exceptional rapidity to an exceptional size. (Be it observed that
the muraena breeds at all seasons, but the hippurus only in the
spring. The smyrus differs from the smyraena; for the muraena is
mottled and weakly, whereas the smyrus is strong and of one uniform
colour, and the colour resembles that of the pine-tree, and the animal
has teeth inside and out. They say that in this case, as in other
similar ones, the one is the male, and the other the female, of a
single species. They come out on to the land, and are frequently
caught.) Fishes, then, as a general rule, attain their full growth
with great rapidity, but this is especially the case, among small
fishes, with the coracine or crow-fish: it spawns, by the way, near
the shore, in weedy and tangled spots. The orphus also, or
sea-perch, is small at first, and rapidly attains a great size. The
pelamys and the tunny breed in the Euxine, and nowhere else. The
cestreus or mullet, the chrysophrys or gilt-head, and the labrax or
basse, breed best where rivers run into the sea. The orcys or
large-sized tunny, the scorpis, and many other species spawn in the
open sea.
11

Fish for the most part breed some time or other during the three
months between the middle of March and the middle of June. Some few
breed in autumn: as, for instance, the saupe and the sargus, and
such others of this sort as breed shortly before the autumn equinox;
likewise the electric ray and the angel-fish. Other fishes breed
both in winter and in summer, as was previously observed: as, for
instance, in winter-time the basse, the grey mullet, and the belone or
pipe-fish; and in summer-time, from the middle of June to the middle
of July, the female tunny, about the time of the summer solstice;
and the tunny lays a sac-like enclosure in which are contained a
number of small eggs. The ryades or shoal-fishes breed in summer.
Of the grey mullets, the chelon begins to be in roe between
the middle of November and the middle of December; as also the sargue,
and the smyxon or myxon, and the cephalus; and their period of
gestation is thirty days. And, by the way, some of the grey mullet
species are not produced from copulation, but grow spontaneously
from mud and sand.
As a general rule, then, fishes are in roe in the spring-time;
while some, as has been said, are so in summer, in autumn, or in
winter. But whereas the impregnation in the spring-time follows a
general law, impregnation in the other seasons does not follow the
same rule either throughout or within the limits of one genus; and,
further, conception in these variant seasons is not so prolific.
And, indeed, we must bear this in mind, that just as with plants and
quadrupeds diversity of locality has much to do not only with
general physical health but also with the comparative frequency of
sexual intercourse and generation, so also with regard to fishes
locality of itself has much to do not only in regard to the size and
vigour of the creature, but also in regard to its parturition and
its copulations, causing the same species to breed oftener in one
place and seldomer in another.
12

The molluscs also breed in spring. Of the marine molluscs one of
the first to breed is the sepia. It spawns at all times of the day and
its period of gestation is fifteen days. After the female has laid her
eggs, the male comes and discharges the milt over the eggs, and the
eggs thereupon harden. And the two sexes of this animal go about in
pairs, side by side; and the male is more mottled and more black on
the back than the female.

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