The Sunset Fish, named for its beautiful red, purple, indigo, and blue coloration, lives in rivers in streams in Mid-Sarvonia, including the Luquador and Rayne River. It eats insects and some algae, and is eaten itself by carnivores like bears and wild cats, but also by ogres, trolls, orcs, and humans.
Appearance. The Sunset Fish is about a fore long from its snout to the tip of the back or tail fin. As their name implies, their scales are brightly colored, and are pink to dark red on their underside, shading into a grayish to dark purple on the sides, then to an indigo color on the back. The single back fin that the Sunset Fish have is a deep blue, sometimes making it blend into the waters and helping to camouflage the fish. The head from the gill cover to the eye and around the jaw tends to be more reddish-purple and the top of the nose and head are more indigo and blue. All of the scales have a slightly silvery glint to them. The eyes are usually a metallic yellow.
The back fin, also known as the rakfin, projects from the top of the fish’s body, and is about 6 nailsbreadths high at the highest point, at the center of the fin. The longest rib of the fin is 6 nailsbreadths long while the shortest, at the back, is a little less than 1.5 nailsbreadths long. The Sunset Fish also has two ventral fins, one in the center of the abdomen, called the pelvic fin, and another in the back near the tail, called the anal fin. The pelvic fin sticks out about 3 nailsbreadths from the fish’s body, moving diagonally downwards, and then moving back to the fish’s body like a partially open fan. The anal fin sticks out 2.5 nailsbreadths from the body and appears as a circle shifted slightly backwards. Both of the ventral fins are a yellowish or orangish pink.
The rakfin is 8 nailsbreadths from the body to the tip of the point of the fin. The distance between the two points of the tail is approximately 9 nailsbreadths. The shape of the rakfin fin is distinct, sharply curving inwards in the center, and shading from a reddish purple at the bottom to a deep indigo blue at the top. The wing fin, appearing just behind the gills on either side of the fish’s body, is roughly triangular and is approximately 4.5 nailsbreadths long. Usually it’s a deep purplish color, though the bottom tips may be tinted with crimson.
Special Abilities. The Sunset fish have few special abilities. It does not have exceptional speed, though it can dart quite quickly. Its reaction time is speedy, which is why, if one fancies a Sunset Fish dinner, they had best have a quick hand and a sharp eye. However, these fish are not very bright and if startled, will forget their fear in a few moments, losing all knowledge of prior danger.
Territory. The Sunset Fish prefers rivers in mid-Sarvonia, including the Liben River, the Quest River, the Luquador River, the Rayne River, and the Vandrina River. However, it lives most populously in the Luquador and Rayne Rivers. Sunset Fish are rarely found in still waters and cannot live in salt water.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Sunset Fish tends to prefer both slow and fast-moving rivers and streams, usually of the colder variety, that house many different algae and are surrounded by trees and flowers. The surrounding vegetation may increase the amount of insects that fall into their habitats among the water, as well as the amount of larva hatched in the shallow parts of the river. The Sunset Fish has been known to jump out of the water to catch insects above the surface and aren’t quite as shy as most other fish.
Sunset Fish travel in small scuals, rarely exceeding ten, and typically averaging around six or seven. Many of these scuals are made up of fish that are related or that were hatched together in the same nest. However, though they are typically related, they are not at all willing to share food. Like most fish, they sleep for short periods of time, usually a few hours a few times a day that involves them being inactive, though they will continue to move their fins to keep their place in the water.
Diet. The Sunset Fish are omnivorous, eating both meat and plants. Most of the plants they eat are algae and other such water plants. Research has found that ingesting the leaves of plants that are not water-bound tend to cause the fish to lose appetite and eventually die. They also typically eat insects in nearly any stage of life. Many insects that lay their eggs in water risk the chance of their offspring being eaten in either the egg or the larva stage. Even once the insects mature into adults and take to the air, Sunset Fish will typically leap out of the water to catch these winged insects or bugs crawling on limbs that are suspended over the rivers and streams. Sunset Fish have even been known to eat the eggs of other fish and the eggs of their own species as well as newly hatched fish.
Mating. In the spring and early summer, hundreds of Sunset Fish travel anywhere from two to five strals upstream to mating grounds where the water is usually calmer and shallower to mate and lay eggs. The mating process is an interesting one that many researchers find intriguing. The male courts the female, brushing his fins softly across her sides, coaxing and soothing her before she begins to brush her fins against him in return. Females generally respond to the brightly coloured male in their area, and it is possible for that male to mate several times. After the female accepts the male’s overtures, the two will briefly mate, pressing their belly vents together, and part again. Unlike most fish, fertilization takes place internally, thus ensuring a particular male’s colouration will be passed on to all his offspring. Sunset Fish typically only mate once per year, and thus after mating will leave the mating ground, though the females will stay a little longer to lay their yellowish eggs. These eggs are only a few grains in diameter and are rather adhesive, sticking to rocks and pieces of water plants.
In a few weeks, these eggs will have grown from a few grains in diameter to 1 to 1.5 nailsbreadths in diameter. At about this time, the eggs will hatch, and the small fish larva appear as slender strips of flesh attached to large, blackened eyes and a transparent yellow stomach. The fish are extremely fragile and vulnerable in this stage. However, in a few more weeks the fish have grown scales and their body becomes thicker with distinct features, including the characteristic coloration, the eyes, and the stubby fins. By the time the fall begins to turn to winter, the fish will have split into scoals and will move downstream to join their parents. They will mate at the next spring. Sunset Fish typically live two to three years.
Usages. Sunset fish have sweet, delectable meat that can be eaten fried, sautéed, or even baked in the coals of a camp fire. They taste wonderful when seasoned with certain berries and crushed nuts. Some royalty and nobles, or even rich merchants, will keep them as pets in private ponds or tanks, as humans admire their charming, illustrious coloration, though many of them are simply kept to be eaten at one time or another. They really have no other practical uses besides that of food.
Myth/Lore. It is said that as Baveras was populating her rivers and streams with fish, she became tired of the simple silvers and browns that adorned the majority of her elegant fish. She dreamed a finned creature drenched in radiant colors to fill her swiftly riding waters, but, no matter how she tried, she could not form the fish she envisioned. Late in the evening, as the Goddess lay along a long of sand bay, it was the day she saw Foiros dropping from the sky and witnessed the brilliancy that had illuminated her dreams. Using the vivid reflection in the water, she shaped a creature out of the liquid, streaking its sides with the rainbow colors, and she called it the Sunset Fish.
Information provided by Rayne Avalotus