Many wrasses on coral reefs exhibit daily spawning that peaks around daytime high tides. In this study, we examined tidal-related ovarian development in the threespot wrasse, Halichoeres trimaculatus, a species common on coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. When the fish were collected in the morning at different tidal phases, the gonadosomatic index (GSI) and ovarian histology changed; concomitant with increases in GSI towards high tide, a clutch of the most advanced oocytes developed from vitellogenic to maturation stages. Ovulated eggs and post-ovulated follicles (POF) existed in most ovaries around high tide, but only POF remained around ebb tide, suggesting that spawning occurred during or after high tide. We noticed that tidal-related spawning was considerable in the morning and that most ovaries collected on the afternoon high tide exhibited post-spawning features. This suggests that certain labrid species possess plasticity with regard to their spawning time and utilize potent environmental cues to ensure their reproductive success. When pieces of ovary were incubated with precursor steroids, high conversion of testosterone to 17β-estradiol occurred during high and ebb tides, while that of 17α-hydroxyprogesterone to 17α,20β-dihydroxy-4-pregnen-3-one and 17α,20β,21-trihydroxy-4-pregnen-3-one was observed during low and flood tides. Incubation of pieces of ovary with human chorionic gonadotropin resulted in similar fluctuations in the steroid hormones with tidal phase. Production of these steroid hormones correlated with oocyte development in the ovaries and was probably regulated by gonadotropin. These results demonstrate that the daily cycle is fundamental for oocyte development, and that the tidal cycle is superimposed on this process.
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