A 1-D full-life-cycle, Individual-based model (IBM), two-way coupled with a hydrodynamic/biogeochemical model, is demonstrated for anchovy and sardine in the N. Aegean Sea (Eastern Mediterranean). The model is stage-specific and includes a 'Wisconsin' type bioenergetics, a diel vertical migration and a population dynamics module, with the incorporation of known differences in biological attributes between the anchovy and sardine stocks. A new energy allocation/egg production algorithm was developed, allowing for breeding pattern to move along the capital-income breeding continuum. Fish growth was calibrated against available size-at-age data by tuning food consumption (the half saturation coefficients) using a genetic algorithm. After a ten-years spin up, the model reproduced well the magnitude of population biomasses and spawning periods of the two species in the N. Aegean Sea. Surprisingly, model simulations revealed that anchovy depends primarily on stored energy for egg production (mostly capital breeder) whereas sardine depends heavily on direct food intake (income breeder). This is related to the peculiar phenology of plankton production in the area, with mesozooplankton concentration exhibiting a sharp decrease from early summer to autumn and a subsequent increase from winter to early summer. Monthly changes in somatic condition of fish collected on board the commercial purse seine fleet followed closely the simulated mesozooplankton concentration. Finally, model simulations showed that, when both the anchovy and sardine stocks are overexploited, the mesozooplankton concentration increases, which may open up ecological space for competing species. The importance of protecting the recruit spawners was highlighted with model simulations testing the effect of changing the timing of the existing 2.5-months closed period. Optimum timing for fishery closure is different for anchovy and sardine because of their opposite spawning and recruitment periods.