In breeding season, males often establish a territory defending a coral head suitable for egg-laying (typically corals in the genus Porites). displaying males are recognised by black and white colour pattern including narrow white stripes on the body edges, fins and third arms, as well as wide black bands on the first two arm pairs.
Females seek out coral heads, mate with the male and push their soft eggs deep within the fingers of coral. The eggs then harden making them very difficult to remove. Coral fish hang around females during egg laying sometimes extracting eggs that are not set deep enough within the coral. Eggs hatch within 4-6 weeks with the young immediately hiding amongst coral and rubble.