The female releases her egg capsule, which quickly unravels into the cloud of male reproductive fluid, beginning the first steps toward fertilization. The male darts back to the substrate, as the female continues her plight toward the surface. Note: This is a composite photo. The female is blocking the actual eggs in this shot so the photographer added the eggs to illustrate the act more clearly.
The female, bloated with eggs, seems to pant uncomfortably and is otherwise unable to swim on her own power. Alerting the male with a series of sharp and deliberate twitches, he moves into position quickly to assist her before she changes her mind. Nudging her abdomen and prying her away from the reef, she begins to move.
Like bookends, the two male frogfish in this photo (A. commersoni) surround the female, while vying for her affection and the opportunity to extend his bloodline. The mate blocking and aggressive behavior continues sometimes for several days before one lucky male emerges as the victor.