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TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Mochokidae (Squeakers or Upsidedown Catfishes)

Genus/species: Synodontis nigriventris

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Ground color khaki, small reddish to black dots cover the entire surface. The body is scaleless with large eyes, a large adipose fin, a forked tail, and three pairs of barbels. The head is flattened and the sides of the body are slightly compressed.

Length 9-10 cm (3-4 inches)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central Congo basin of Africa. Found in freshwater streams in schools of hundreds to thousands.

DIET IN THE WILD: Omnivorous scavenger: Feeds mainly at night on insects, crustaceans and filamentous algae, plant debris, bowels of dead fishes. Grazes algae from undersides of cave ceilings or leaves with its little rasp-like teeth while in the inverted position, a posture also used while gleaning food from the water’s surface. Also locates food on the substrate among debris such as rotting plants.

REPRODUCTION: Egg layers, with the young swimming upside-down after they are approximately 2 months old.

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REMARKS: Swimming “upside-down” (ventral toward surface) is normal for adults of this species, which often feed and breathe at the surface. One common name for the family refer to the group’s propensity to make squeaking noises, especially when netted and taken from the water.

CONSERVATION: IUCN least concern 2010

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Water Planet Surviving 2019

ADW https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Synodontis/classification/

IUCN https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/182250/7842677

Ron’s flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157625017923579/with/3400184132/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-11B

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Characiformes (Characins)
Family: Characidae (Characins)

Genus/species: Astyanax mexicanus 

 

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The head is notable for the absence of eyes. Young are born with functioning eyes which become completely enclosed in tissue as fish grows. The lack of sight is compensated by a highly developed lateral line that detects vibrations and changes in the water. The fish is without pigmentation and is plain pink with a silver sheen. They live in schools and grow to about 12 cm or 4.72 inches.

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DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Texas, New Mexico, and eastern and central Mexico in freshwater pools within dark caves.

DIET IN THE WILD: A keen sense of smell and electrolocation aid in finding food. Blind cave fish are omnivores and feed on animal and plant remains that wash into the caves and on bat droppings from cave ceilings. Much of their time is spent searching for food; they are able to store four times more energy as fat than their surface-dwelling relatives, allowing them to deal with irregular food supplies.

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REMARKS: Two forms of A. mexicanus (eyed and eyeless) being members of the same species, are closely related and can interbreed.

The loss of eye tissue in the blind cavefish, which occurs within a few days of their development, happens through epigenetic silencing of eye-related genes, according to a study led by the National Institutes of Health. Epigenetic regulation is a process where genes are turned off or on, typically in a reversible or temporary manner. This mechanism differs from genetic mutations, which are permanent changes in the DNA code. The study appears in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Water planet Senses Cluster,  Dr Bart Sheperd

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608608528651/with/2999116145/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-11I

Read more at: phys.org/news/2018-05-eye-loss-cavefish.html#jCp

NIH phys.org/news/2018-05-eye-loss-cavefish.html

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animal
Phylum: Chordate
Class: Actinoptery
Order: Osteoglossiformes
Family: Mormyridae  (Elephantfishes)
Genus/species: Gnathonemus petersii

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The snout is its most unique feature. It is not actually a nose, but an extension of the mouth that is covered in electroreceptors that capture information from the weak electric field the fish generates. Receptors, which cover much of the body are used to navigate, avoid predators, and find food and mates in the turbid waters of its habitat.

Maximum length: 35.0 cm (13 in)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: G. petersii are found in African fresh waters often murky.

DIET IN THE WILD: They feed mostly at night on worms and insects probably aided by electro-sensory inputs.

IUCN: Least Concern

Elephantnose fish have the largest brain of any fish their size with a brain size to body weight ratio higher than a human’s.
They have been used by water departments in the U.S. and Germany to test the quality of drinking water. When the quality of the water declines, the amount of electrical pulses released increases.

They are depicted in ancient Egyptian tombs dating from 2500 BC

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Senses Cluster 2019

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/4734491953/in/album-72157675574079744/

Frontiers of Zoology https://frontiersinzoology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1742-9994-6-21

fishbase. www.fishbase.se/summary/Gnathonemus-petersii.html

www.deepdyve.com/lp/wiley/fish-monitors-and-the-role-of-e…

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink https://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1Zw

TAXONOMY
Phylum: Chordate
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Scorpaeniformes
Family: Rhamphocottidae, Grunt Sculpins
Genus/species: Rhamphocottus richardsoni

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Short stocky body. Most of body covered with prickles. Head and body colored yellowish-beige, streaked with dark brown; ventral surface creamy yellow to pale red. Base of caudal fin is bright red. Fin rays mostly reddish.
Their large heads represent over half of their total body length—and feature a long, tapered snout, two bony ridges on top, and small cirri on the upper lip. Instead of scales, their bodies are covered with small plates containing numerous tiny spines.

Length 5-7.6 cm (2-3 in).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Pacific Ocean, Japan north to Alaska, south to Santa Monica Bay, California. Habitat: Rocky and sandy substrates, tide pools. Grunt sculpins use the barnacles’ shells as protection and egg-laying sites. In this position, the shape of its head resembles the former resident of the shell.

Intertidal to 165 m. (540 ft)

DIET IN THE WILD: Crustaceans. Young consume zooplankton, invertebrate and fish larvae

LONGEVITY: about four years.

REPRODUCTION: Observations in captivity show that during spawning season the female chases the male until he is trapped in a rocky cavern. She keeps him captive until her eggs are laid; fertilization is external. After the eggs are fertilized, the female leaves the male to guard the nest. She may return occasionally to take a shift protecting the eggs. When it’s time for the eggs to hatch, whichever parent is guarding them (male or female) takes the eggs into its mouth, leaves the nest and literally spits the eggs out—breaking the eggs open. The newly hatched larvae then swim away to begin their lives.

REMARKS: Produces grunt-like sounds when removed from water, thus the common name. Eyes operate independently.
Like most sculpins, rarely swims freely in the water column; instead usually “walks” with a hopping motion over the substrate by use of its large, fan-like pectoral fins. Frequently observed taking shelter in empty shells, including those of the giant barnacle, Balanus nubilis, as well as in cans and bottles.

They move by crawling on the tips of their finger-like pectoral fins in a series of twitchy hops, jerks and jumps.

They make a wheezing-grunting sound when removed from the water, hence the name, grunt sculpin.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Water Planet Locomotion 2018

Ron’s Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/15896092713/in/album-72157662278273245/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink https://fishoncomputer.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

Seattle Aquarium https://www.seattleaquarium.org/animals/grunt-sculpin

Aquarium of the Pacific http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/grunt_sculpin/

TAXONOMY
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda,
Order: Nudibranchia (sea slugs)
Family Tethydidae

Genus/ species: Melibe leonina

YouTube VIDEO  http://youtu.be/Xe2bM2kKm-U

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Color a translucent gray, greenish-gray, or yellowish-gray, with opaque brown hepatic diverticula. Melibe leonina has 4-6 pairs of large, leaflike or paddlelike cerata in two rows down its dorsum and a large oral hood with two rows of filiform tentacles around its margin.

Length up to 102 mm long (4 in), 25 mm (1 in) wide, and 51 mm (2 in) across the expanded oral hood.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: West coast of North America from Alaska to Baja California in eelgrass beds, kelp (especially Macrocystis) beds, harbors. When swimming it is usually upside-down, and undulates back and forth.

DIET:  M. leonina feeds on Copepods, amphipods, and ostracods, as well as small post-larval mollusks. They firmly attache itself to a kelp blade and then sweeps its raised hood downward or to the side. When food lands on the lower surface of the hood, the melibe sweeps together the two sides of the hood, and its fringing tentacles lock in the prey. The hood contracts to force the captured food into the M. leonine’s mouth.

REPRODUCTION and DEVELOPMENT:  M. leonine are hermaphrodites (they have both male and female sexual organs), and fertilization is internal. The animal can lay as many as 30,000 eggs, which are enclosed in a long, gelatinous ribbon.

REMARKS:  Noxious secretions of the melibe smell like watermelon, according to aquarists. They are gregarious animals and probably use it to keep together as well as for defense.  Most predators avoid the noxious secretions of nudibranchs; but the kelp crab is an exception. 

This species has been used for neurological research.

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References

California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Water is Life 2019

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink wp.me/p1DZ4b-fW

Ron’s flickr www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608597736188/

Monterey Bay Aquarium www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/invertebrates/me…

EOL eol.org/pages/454874/details

 

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura (Frogs, Toads)
Family: Rhacophoridae

Genus/species: Theloderma corticale

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The Vietnamese Mossy Frog are a marvel of camouflage coloration and texture. Tubercles and spines on the skin and mottled colors of green, black, and purple make the animals blend perfectly into their mossy, wooded background. They have large sticky pads on their toes and a soft underbelly.

Length 7- 8 cm (3 inches)

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DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: T. corticale are found in North Vietnam in subtropical and tropical moist lowland forests, freshwater marshes. A semi-aquatic species that spends much time in the water, hiding under rocks and floating plants. Also spends time above the water, attached to crevice or rock where it blends perfectly with its background.

Count the eyes below

DIET IN THE WILD: Nocturnal, they have a long, sticky tongue attached to the front of their mouth that they use to catch insects. Frogs has no hard palate. To swallow it pulls its eyes down into the roof of its mouth helping to push food down its throat.

ACADEMY DIET: Crickets primarily three times per week.

CONSERVATION: The World Conservation Union (IUCN) states that clear cutting forests and demand from the pet trade can potentially impact numbers.

REPRODUCTION: Eggs are laid on rocks or vegetation just above the water. After hatching, the larvae fall into the water below and metamorphose from a tadpole to a frog in about a year.

CONSERVATION:IUCN Red List: Least Concern

REMARKS: Like all tree frogs, they have adhesive toe pads that allow it to grip the undersides of slick leaves or rocks. Recent studies have shown these pads to be a sophisticated combination of mucous covered areas that provide wet adhesion and raised dry areas that provide a grip on dry surfaces. These findings have stimulated exploration into improved tire design.

They can absorb oxygen through their skin. (M Avila Academy Biologist)

Curls into a ball and “plays dead” when frightened.

Vietnamese Mossy Frog Theloderma corticale (Rhacophoridae)

Water planet, Water Dependence 

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Water Dependance 2018

Ron’s Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608456457315/with/5355461537/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-LI

ADW animaldiversity.org/accounts/Theloderma_corticale/classif…

IUCN Red list www.iucnredlist.org/species/59033/87476136

WAZA www.waza.org/en/zoo/pick-a-picture/theloderma-corticale

American Museum of Natural History.  research.amnh.org/vz/herpetology/amphibia/Amphibia/Anura/…

 

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Scorpaeniformes (Scorpionfishes and flatheads)
Family: Cyclopteridae (Lumpfishes)

Genus/species: Eumicrotremus orbis

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The globular shaped body is covered in cone-shaped plates, called tubercles. Females are dull green in color, while males are dull orange to reddish-brown.

Typically measures 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.6 cm) in length, with a maximum length of  7 inches.

The Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker’s anal fin has evolved into a large suction cup, allowing it to attach to surfaces. They are most commonly found attached to solid objects and are ineffective swimmers.

 

Distribution: North Pacific: From Japan to Alaska south to Puget Sound, Washington.
Habitats, include eelgrass beds, rocky reefs, kelp patches, shallow bays, and docks. They can be found in near shore waters to a depth of 500 feet (150 m).

DIET: Crustaceans and mollusks.

REPRODUCTION and DEVELOPMENT: Males guard eggs following spawning.

CONSERVATION IUCN NOT EVALUATED

REMARKS: The large adhesive sucking disc with thickened fringed margin is composed of modified and ossified pelvic rays. When disturbed, the fish hovers about, changing directions aimlessly like a tiny helicopter.

The family name Cyclopteridae translates from Greek as “circle wing,” a reference to their circle-shaped pectoral fins. Their roe is used as a substitute for expensive and/or unavailable caviar.


References

California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, locomotion, 2018

Ron’s flickr sitehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608359804936/

Ron’s WordPress short link  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-kw

fishbase  www.fishbase.de/summary/Eumicrotremus-orbis

Eschmeyer, W.N., E.S. Herald and H. Hammann, 1983. A field guide to Pacific coast fishes of North America. Boston (MA, USA): Houghton Mifflin Company. xii+336 p. (Ref. 2850)
(formerly on Academy staff)

TAXONOMY
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Scorpaeniformes (Scorpionfishes and flatheads)
Family: Scorpaenidae (Scorpionfishes or rockfishes)

Genus/species: Dendrochirus biocellatus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: the body is stout and irregularly banded in brown and light orange. D. biocellatus has large, fan-like pectoral fins, and tall, quill-like dorsal fins. It is unique from other Lionfishes because of the two, feeler-like appendages on the chin. The Fu Manchu received its name from the long mustache appendages on the front of it’s mouth.

Length up to 5 inches

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DISTRIBUTIONHABITAT: The Fu Manchu Lionfish is found in the Indo-Pacific in deep crevices and caves on tropical coral reefs.

DIET IN THE WILD: small fishes and shrimps.

Dendrochirus biocellatus6287770317_9ccf0044ea_b

REMARKS: Scorpionfishes have venomous quill-like spines to repel predators. Near the posterior fin false eyespots also confuse predators. They are mainly nocturnal inhabiting deep crevices and caves during the day.

References

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Water is Life Surviving 2018

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/SpeciesSummary.php?genusname=Den…

 EOL  eol.org/pages/211678/details

Ron’s WordPress shortlink http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1EC

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/6287769897/in/album-72157659936804343/

ADW animaldiversity.org/accounts/Dendrochirus_brachypterus/

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animal
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Family Serranidae (Sea basses: groupers and fairy basslets)

Genus/species: Hypoplectrus gemma

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The Blue Hamlet is iridescent blue with thin borders on its tail. Max length : 13.0 cm

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Western Central Atlantic: USA (Florida) and Mexico. Marine; reef-associated. Tropical

DIET IN THE WILD: Hamlets have a large mouth and are carnivorous. In the wild Blue Hamlets feed on shrimps, small crabs, small crustaceans and the occasional small fish.

REPRODUCTION: Hamlets are simultaneous hermaphrodites (or synchronous hermaphrodites): They have both male and female sexual organs at the same time as an adult. They do not practice self-fertilization, but when they find a mate, the pair takes turns between which one acts as the male and which acts as the female through multiple matings, usually over the course of several nights.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Least Concern

References

California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Caribbean Reef 2018

Ron’s Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/44937435715/in/album-72157625866509117/

Ron,s WordPress Shortlink  https://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1Z9

fishbase fishbase.org/summary/47813

ADW. animaldiversity.org/accounts/Hypoplectrus/classification/

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum : Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Pomacanthidae (Angelfishes)

Genus/species: Pomacanthus paru

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: French Angelfish have tall, narrow bodies. and can turn quickly and maneuver down into narrow cracks between the corals to hunt prey and avoid predators.

The most observable difference between angelfishes and butterflyfishes is the preopercule spine on the gill cover common to angelfishes. Bodies are covered in black scales except those at front from nape to abdomen, which are rimmed with golden-yellow. Adults have a broad orange-yellow bar at the base of their pectoral fins and have a dorsal filament that is yellow.

Juveniles are jet black with circular bright yellow bands.
Max length : 41 cm (16 inches), common length : 25.0 cm (10 inches).

Adult below

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DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Western Atlantic: Florida, USA and Bahamas to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Eastern Atlantic: off Ascension Island to the west coasts of Africa in shallow reefs. 

Depth range 3 – 100 m (10-90 feet)

Juvenile below

French Angelfish

 

DIET IN THE WILD: P. paru are omnivores feeding on  sponges, algae, bryozoans, zoantharians, gorgonians and tunicates.

REPRODUCTION: French Angelfish are oviparous and monogamous. Spawning pairs are strongly territorial, with usually both members vigorously defending their areas against neighboring pairs.

CONSERVATION: IUCN; Least concern.

REMARKS: The tall, narrow bodies can turn quickly and maneuver down into narrow cracks between the corals to hunt prey and avoid predators. They swim by rowing with their pectoral fins.

Juveniles tend cleaning stations where they service a broad range of clients, including jacks, snappers, morays, grunts, surgeonfishes, and wrasses. At the station the cleaner displays a fluttering swimming and when cleaning it touches the clients with its pelvic fins.

Ciguatera poisoning may rarely occur from eating French angelfishes.

Juvenile below

References

California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Caribbean Reef 2018

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/1118

Ron’s WordPress shortlink:  wp.me/p1DZ4b-KJ

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/19974227304/in/album-72157625866509117/

ADW animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Pomacanthus_paru/

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