Tag Archive: Caribbean Reef

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes),
Order Perciformes (Perch-likes),
Family Serranidae (Sea basses: groupers and fairy basslets)
Subfamily: Serraninae

Genus/species: Serranus tortugarum

GENERAL  CHARACTERISTICS: Light purple with bright blue to orange saddle bands along its back. Different specimens of this species can look very different from each other. The body has an orange to maroon base color. The top of the fish is darker than the bottom half.

Max. length: 8 cm (3 in)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found throughout the Caribbean sea over rubble, silty, or sandy bottoms. Often congregate in small groups hovering over a patch of coral rubble or an old conch shell. Will often hide in the substrate.

DIET IN THE WILD: Feeds on zooplankton.

REPRODUCTION:The Chalk Bass like other members of the genus Serranus, is a synchronous (simultaneous) hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs). The mated pair takes turns in which one acts as the male and the other the female through multiple matings, usually over the course of several nights. The fish do not self-fertilize.



California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Caribbean Reef 2018

Ron’s flickr   http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157625866509117/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-v2

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/Serranus-tortugarum.html

IUCN www.iucnredlist.org/details/16759567/0



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

Genus/species:  Holacanthus ciliaris  

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Like their close relatives the butterflyfishes, they have a deep, laterally compressed body, a single, unnotched dorsal fin, and a small mouth with brushlike teeth.  The most observable difference between the two families is the long spine at the corner of the preopercle common to angelfishes.

H. ciliaris  is deep-bodied and strongly laterally compressed. Dorsal and anal fins trail. Juveniles have vertical blue bands on an orange-red body. As the fish grows, the bars increase in number before gradually disappearing. The color of large adults is purplish blue with yellow-orange rims to the scales; head above eye dark blue. They have a distinctive “crown” is speckled dark blue and surrounded by a ring of bright blue. Length to 45 cm (18 in), weight to 1.6 kg (3.5lbs).  

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found in Bermuda, Florida, Bahamas, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico to Brazil on offshore reefs, 2-70+ m (6-200+ ft). Travel solitary or in pairs among sea fans, sea whips and corals.  

DIET IN THE WILD: Queen angelfish primarily feed on sponges and corals.; also algae, tunicates, hydroids and bryozoans. Juveniles glean ectoparasites from other fish.


Queen Angelfish

REPRODUCTION: Pairs reproduce bringing their bellies close together, and release sperm and 25 to 75 thousand eggs (10 million per spawning cycle).  The eggs are transparent, buoyant, and pelagic hatching after 15 to 20 hours into larvae with the yolk sac being absorbed after 48 hours.  The larvae then develop normal characteristics of free-swimming fish feeding on plankton and about 3–4 weeks after hatching the 15–20 millimetres (0.6–0.8 in) long juvenile settles on the bottom. Juveniles  are found among colonies of finger sponges and corals at the bottom of reefs for protection.




California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Caribbean reef fishes 2018

fishbase  http://www.fishbase.org/summary/3609

ADW  http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Holacanthus_ciliaris/

Ron’s flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157625866509117/

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


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Scorpaeniformes
Family: Scorpaenidae (Scorpionfishes and Their Allies)

Genus/species: Pterois volitansRed Lionfish 8512498521_e37450498e_b

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS:  The Red Lionfish has a compressed body with a large head from 1/3 to 1/2 the standard length. Greatly enlarged pectoral fins and elongate dorsal fins. Vertically colored brownish bars interspersed with fine white lines. Two visually identical species have been introduced into the north-west Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico making positive identification only by genetic analysis.

Length to 38 cm (54 in).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: P. volitans occurs throughout most of Oceania being native to the western Pacific Ocean and introduced to the Atlantic possibly through the aquarium trade. Inhabits coral reefs and lagoons, turbid inshore areas to depths to 50 m (160 ft).

DIET IN THE WILD: A voracious nocturnal predator of small fishes, shrimp and crabs. Corners and traps prey with its widespread pectoral fins.

Red Lionfish 8355039924_e28c66a7be_b

PREDATORS: Other than cannibalism, there are few documented natural predators of the lionfish  Native groupers in the Bahamas consume them. Finally despite their venomous spines, lionfish are caught by humans for food. 

LIFESPAN 10 years


Red Lionfish IMG_0299

REMARKS: Venomous glands at the base of dorsal, anal and pelvic fin spines are capable of inflicting severe and painful wounds. The venom contains a neurotoxin which reduces the transmission chemical signals to the muscles, as well as affecting the cardiovascular system. Doctors suggest soaking the afflicted area in very hot water to denature the venom’s proteins. Experimental evidence suggests that commercial stonefish antivenom does have some detoxifying effect on lionfish venom.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Caribbean Reef 2016

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

Ron’s flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608341866427/with/8355039924/

Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Pterois_volitans/

fishbase http://www.fishbase.org/summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=5195&lang=Swedish


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) 
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes) 
Family: Scaridae (Parrotfishes)

Genus/species: Scarus iseri

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Parrotfish owe their name to the shape of their mouth. Instead of teeth they have two beak-like plates, like parrots. They have even rows of large, noticeable scales on their bodies. 

Terminal phase: Body blue to green, with a gold to yellow spot or stripe above and behind the pectoral fin. Dorsal fin with a distinct pink, yellow or orange stripe down the middle that is broken by blue to green linear markings. Tail dark blue or green, with yellow or orangish linear markings between the borders.
Initial and juvenile phases: Body with three black stripes, two white stripes and a white belly, often with thin, broken silver, yellow or dark stripes. Usually yellow smudge on the nose, occasionally with yellow on the ventral fins, belly or tail. Tail without dark borders.
Size up to 35 cm.

Striped Parrottfish19431680162_8165aba44c_k

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Common Florida, Bahamas and Caribbean. Epibenthic, found over shallow, clear waters, generally over Thalassia beds and rocky or coral areas

DIET IN THE WILD: Feeds on plants.

REPRODUCTION: A protogynous hermaphrodite . Super males spawn individually with striped females, while sexually mature males in the striped phase spawn in aggregation.




California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Caribbean Reef 2015

Ron’s www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157625866509117/

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

IUCN  www.iucnredlist.org/details/190732/25

Encyclopedia of Life eol.org/pages/217720/details

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Pomacentridae (Damselfishes)

Genus/species: Chromis cyanea

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The body is laterally compressed with a small mouth. Color is brilliant blue; nape and back often dark. The slender tail is deeply forked has dark borders. 

Length to 15 cm (2.3 – 6 inches)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Florida, Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico in schools of the outer reef slopes and exposed patch reefs. 

Depth 3–60 m (10-200 ft)

DIET IN THE WILD: Zooplankton, primarily copepods.

REPRODUCTION: Lay demersal eggs, which are guarded by the male.

PREDATORS: Preyed upon by other fishes such as grouper and trumpet fishes.

LIFESPAN: 5 years in captivity


REMARKS: Often in large aggregations retreating into coral crevices when frightened.

Blue chromis also use olfaction and mechanoreception (lateral line) to detect water movement and vibration, and can also hear using their well-developed inner ears.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Caribbean Reef 2016

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608339622313/with/6190673709/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  wp.me/p1DZ4b-G9

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/3642

IUCN Red List  www.iucnredlist.org/details/165910/0

Animal Diversity Web animaldiversity.org/accounts/Chromis_cyanea/

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:  Chordata
Class:  Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Chaetodontidae (Butterflyfishes)

Genus/species: Prognathodes aculeatus

Caribbean Longnose Butterflyfish 8374253723_e84e62082c_o

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Upper half of body yellow-orange, shading into blackish basally in dorsal fin; lower half of body white; orange bands on head and a narrow orange bar on caudal peduncle. Average of 2 to 3 inches long.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found on natural and artificial reefs, usually 30 to 200 ft in-depth, off Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, in the Caribbean Sea, and off the coast of Venezuela.

DIET IN THE WILD: Bristleworms, crustaceans, black coral polyps, sea urchin pedicellaria. Also known to eat the tube feet of sea urchins and tube worm tentacles.



REMARKS: When threatened, this butterflyfish erects its dorsal spines and points them at the threat.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Caribbean Reef 2016

Ron’s flickr www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157625119200613/…

Ron’s WordPress shortlink wp.me/p1DZ4b-No

fishbase fishbase.us/summary/Prognathodes-aculeatus.html


Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico, Volume 2: Scorpaeniformes to Tetraodontiformes
By John D. McEachran, Janice D. Fechhelm

Caribbean Reef PR36

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Grammatidae (Basslets)

Genus/species: Gramma loreto

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Bicolored: purple (appearing blue underwater) in front, bight orange-yellow behind. Length to 8 cm (3.1 in)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Western Central Atlantic (Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda). Found in caves or under ledges. Swim with belly toward substratum, thus under ledges seen upside down. 

DIET IN THE WILD: Feed on ectoparasites of other fishes.

REPRODUCTION/DEVELOPMENT: External fertilization. Prior to spawning, some males establish nest sites, using small holes and crevices in the substratum. Females travel to male nests for egg deposition around dawn.  Males guard and maintain the nest.   


REMARKS: Often rests or retreats when alarmed to a stereotypic “upside down” posture near cave roofs. 


California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Caribbean Reef 2016

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608545590153/

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

fishbase  www.fishbase.org/summary/SpeciesSummary.php?ID=5281&g…

Encyclopedia of Life eol.org/pages/211815/details

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Sciaenidae (Drums or Croakers)

Genus/species: Equetus lanceolatus


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: E. lanceolatus  has a very high first dorsal fin with a short base. Gray with three white-edged dark brown to black bands, the first running vertically through eye, the second from nape across operculum and chest to front of pelvic fins, and the last beginning on first dorsal fin and running to end of caudal fin Third and widest band from tip of high dorsal fin, curving along length of body to tip of tail
Max length : 25.0 cm (10 inches), common length : 15.0 cm (6 inches).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Western Atlantic: Bermuda and North Carolina, USA to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Inhabits bays and sounds; also deep coral reefs.                                                                                                                                   Depth range 10 – 60 m (33-200 ft)

DIET IN THE WILD: Bottom dwelling carnivores, eating small shrimps and crabs, polychaete worms and gastropod mollusks.



REMARKS: Reports of ciguatera poisoning


California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Caribbean Reef 2015 

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/19431680992/in/album-72157625866509117/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-L3

fishbase  www.fishbase.org/summary/Equetus-lanceolatus.html

Encyclopedia of life eol.org/pages/213448/details

IUCN www.iucnredlist.org/details/46104959/0

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

Genus/species: Centropyge argi

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Like their close relatives the butterflyfishes, they have a deep, laterally compressed body, a single, unnotched dorsal fin, and a small mouth with brushlike teeth. The most observable difference between the two families is the long spine at the corner of the preopercle common to angelfishes.

C. argi is a small, oval angelfish. The body is dark blue with a yellow-orange face and blue ring around the eye. Pectoral fins are pale yellowish; other fins deep blue with pale blue margins.
Length up to 8 cm (3.1 in)



DISTRIBUTION/ HABITAT: Bermuda, Florida, Bahamas, Yucatan and Central American coast to Guianas. Nocturnally active in pairs or small groups in rubble areas near rocky or coral reefs, occasionally walls. 

Depth 9–105 m (30-345 ft), commonly deeper than 30 m (100 ft)

DIET IN THE WILD: Omnivorous, feeds on algae, benthic inverts and detritus.

REPRODUCTION/DEVELOPMENT: Broadcast spawners. All Centropyge are born female. As they grow, the larger and more dominant fish will become male and the others will remain female. If the male dies, the next in command in the hierarchy will turn to male.

PREDATORS: Preyed on by other fish such as yellow-finned tunafish. This small angelfsh darts into crevices when frightened or pursued by predators.

Lifespan: Have been reported to live up to 5 years in captivity.




California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Caribbean reef fishes 2015

Ron’s flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157606840726733/

Ron’s W0rdpress shortlink   http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-uJ

fishbase  http://www.fishbase.org/summary/3607

Book  Lieske, E. and R. Myers, 1994. Collins Pocket Guide. Coral reef fishes. Indo-Pacific & Caribbean including the Red Sea. Haper Collins Publishers, 400 p.

ADW  http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Centropyge_argi/


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Echinodermata
Class: Echinoidea (Sea urchins)
Subclass: Cidaroidea
Order: Cidaroida
Family: Cidaridae

Genus/species: Eucidaris tribuloides

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Brown body with thick spines in all directions. 

Slate Pencil UrchinIMG_1479

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: North Carolina through Brazil, Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida. Found in coral reef crevices, in turtle grass beds, or under rocks and rubble in back reef lagoon areas. Depth to 800 m (usually 50 m). 



Slate Pencil UrchinIMG_1478

DIET IN THE WILD: Nocturnal omnivore: algae and small invertebrates such as sea squirts and sponges.

Slate Pencil UrchinIMG_0664

REMARKS: The spines of pencil urchins, unlike other urchin groups, are not covered with epidermis. They are, however, often covered with algae and epizoans that provide excellent camouflage. Spines are also covered with barbs that can inflict serious pain to a predator. Seek shelter in rocky crevices by day, using the thick spines to maintain a protected position.


Encyclopedia of life eol.org/pages/600976/details

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute 


Animal Diversity Web animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Eucidaris_tribulo…

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/4330820247/in/set-72157608501343477

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

Caribbean  PR36

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