Eggs are produced by ovaries in the female, and sperm are produced by the testes in the male. Eggs and sperm are released through an opening behind the anus. Fertilization in most species takes place externally. Mortality among the eggs and young fishes is often very high. Many species of fishes lay large numbers of eggs, which ensures that at least a few individuals survive to become adult fish.

Some bony fishes bear live young. Using a modified anal fin, the male inserts sperm into the female, and fertilization is internal. The female carries the eggs in her body until the young are born. Other species care for the eggs as shown in Figure 39-16.

The reproductive, or spawning, behavior of bony fishes varies widely. Some species build crude nests from plants, sticks, and shells. Many species migrate to warm, protected shallow water to spawn.

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