Tag Archive: fishes

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Osteoglossiformes (Bony tongues)
Family: Arapaimidae (Bonytongues)

Genus/species: Arapaima gigas

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Usually grey to green in color with red flecks on the scales towards the tail and reddish-orange color of the filleted flesh. They are heavy with an elongated body with very large scales. There are also two symmetrical fins on either side of the body at the posterior end. The arapaima has a tongue with sharp, bony teeth that together with teeth on the roof of its palate are involved in disabling and shredding prey

It is one of the largest freshwater fishes in the world (length up to 450cm (14 feet in the 1800’s) Common length 200 cm (6.75 feet). Weight up to 133 kg. (292 lbs) In the 1800s specimens to 200 kg (440 lbs) were reported. 

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Tropical. Amazon River and its tributaries in freshwater flooded areas dense with aquatic vegetation and shore plants. Much of the water that comprises the pirarucu’s habitat is also oxygen deficient, as it is located in swampy areas of the rainforest.

DIET IN THE WILD: Specialized for surface feeding with their up turned mouths. Adults prey on fish at the surface; suck smaller fish into the mouth, then crush pre against the roof of its mouth using its tooth-covered bony tongue. Like its close relative the arawana, it can leap from the water to snatch a bird or even a monkey from an overhanging branch.


REPRODUCTION: Sexually mature at the age of five years old. Builds a nest of about 15 cm (6 inches) depth and 50 cm (20 inches) width in sandy bottoms. Guards the eggs and the young. Adults have the ability to exude a pheromone from their head to attract offspring and keep them in close proximity.

MORTALITY and LONGEVITY: Preyed upon by humans. Life spans of 15 to 20 years in captivity .

CONSERVATION: IUCV Red List Data deficient. CITES Appendix II. Heavily exploited as a commercial fish throughout the Amazon. Populations have been greatly reduced during the past 200 years Commercial fishing of arapaima was banned in Brazil outside of a limited number of sustainable reserves, but illegal fishing still continues.

REMARKS: Indigenous people utilize the scales and bones. The bony or toothed tongue was once used as a seed grater to make drink powders. Its scales were used as scrappers.

In addition to gills, it has a modified and enlarged swim bladder, composed of lung-like tissue, which enables it to extract oxygen from the air. It is an obligate air breather, well adapted to oxygen-deficient waters gulping air every 10–15 minutes when oxygen levels are low.

Often referred to as the largest freshwater fish; some freshwater catfishes and sturgeon may challenge this “record.”


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Amazon Flooded Tunnel, 2018

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 fishbase  www.fishbase.org/summary/Arapaima-gigas.html

Arkive www.arkive.org/arapaima/arapaima-gigas/

 U. of Michigan Animal Diversity Web  animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Arapaima_gigas/

National Geographic. www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/arapaima/

 Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/204868/details



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Acanthuridae (Surgeonfishes, tangs, unicornfishes)

Genus/species: Acanthurus triostegus

Convict surgeonfish 8156826256_a90f659c94_o

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The Convict Tang is a very common surgeonfish.  It is oval in profile and laterally compressed, gray with 4 vertical stripes (1 stripe on head across the yellow eye; 1 on caudal peduncle). The erectile spine on each side of caudal peduncle which folds down into a groove.  This scalpel like spine causes a nasty cut if the fish is treated roughly by a predator or a human. 

Common length : 17.0 cm (6.7 inches).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT:  A. triostegus is found in lagoons and seaward reefs in areas of hard substrates from sea level to 90 m (300 feet) in the Indo-Pacific.

Typically occurs in shallows to 5 m (16 feet).

DIET IN THE WILD: It is a herbivore which uses its serrated teeth along creating saw-like motion to remove filamentous algae from the substrate.


REPRODUCTION: The Convict Tang spawns at dusk with females broadcasting eggs into open water where the males fertilize them.  Larvae drift ~75 days. Post-larvae settle in intertidal areas of benches and reef flats.

PREDATORS: Eggs and sperm are preyed upon by eagle rays, which are often present during spawning.

CONSERVATION: IUCN, Least concern.

REMARKS: This black-barred fish’s common name presumably alludes to the coloration of many prison uniforms of the previous century.



Ron’s Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/3185789781/in/set-72157608332652056/

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Philippine Coral Reef 2016

fishbase  www.fishbase.org/summary/1260

Aquarium of the Pacific www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/co…

Monterey Bay Aquarium www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/AnimalDetails.aspx?en…

EOL eol.org/pages/203984/overview

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


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Tetraodontiformes (Puffers and filefishes)
Family: Monacanthidae (Filefishes)

Genus/species: Oxymonacanthus longirostris

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: their color is pale blue with about eight longitudinal rows of orange-yellow patches, or green with small dark-edged yellow to orange spots.Their is a dark spot on the caudal fin. The snout is long with a small upturned mouth;

Length up to 12 cm (4.72 in)

DISTRIBUTION/ HABITAT: They are found in the Indo-Pacific. in clear lagoons and seaward reefs.

DIET IN THE WILD: Feeds almost exclusively on Acropora polyps throughout the day. The protruding snout and teeth that project from small mouth, permit them to snip off coral polyps. In captivity they can be fed a number of other food items, such as fish eggs, tiny mysid shrimp, and flake and pellet food.


REPRODUCTION: The Orange Spotted Filefish are found in pairs or small groups and nests near the bases of dead corals, often on clumps of algae. Monogamous except if the male population dwindles, then the largest males, become polygamous, breeding with more than one female. The male chatters his mouth along the underside of the female’s jaw presumably to synchronize the spawn. The female places her abdomen into the algae, and the male joins her alongside to fertilize. Non-guarders.

REMARKS: O.longirostris feeds on Acropora corals in Australia, ingesting coral chemicals which cause them to take on the scent of their food (Acropora).  This is the first time scientists have discovered a vertebrate chemically camouflaging itself via its diet, The cod were less active and spent less time hunting around the filefish that ate Acropora than around the fish that ate Pocillopora, indicating that the cod could not detect the Acropora-eating filefish.


California Academy of Sciences Animal Attractions Rich Ross 2017

Ron’s flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/4540304067/in/set-72157625020091079/

News National Geographic.com  news.nationalgeographic.com/news/fish-smell-like-the-cora…

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/Oxymonacanthus-longirostris.html

EOL eol.org/pages/204726/details

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








Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order:Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Pomacentridae (Damselfishes, Chromis, Aneomonefishes)
Subfamily: Amphiprioninae (anemonefishes)

Genus/species: Amphiprion ocellaris

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Adults are orange with three broad vertical white bands with thin black margins. Females are larger than males. Similar to the Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula) but has 11 spines in the dorsal fin compared to 10, while the spiny part of the dorsal fin is also taller.

Length up to 9 cm (3.5 inches)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found among tropical Pacific Ocean coral reefs. They sleep and feed among the tentacles of their host anemone. Stichodactyla gigantea, Stichodactyla mertensi, as well as the anemone Heteractis magnifica and others. The False Clownfish is usually found at depths of about 15 m (50 ft).

(Amphiprion ocellaris) aka FALSE CLOWNFISH

DIET IN THE WILD: Feeds primarily on zooplankton, especially copepods and also on filamentous algae.

REPRODUCTION: A. ocellaris breeds continuously at the Steinhart. Adhesive eggs are laid on a patch of cleared rock near the host anemone’s base and guarded by the male. Eggs hatch after 10 days. The tiny transparent planktonic larvae swim away from the anemone. Two weeks later the larvae metamorphose into small fish. As protandrous hermaphrodites; all individuals mature as males, and all females are sex-reversed males. In the absence of a female the largest male will turn into a female.

Longevity: Up to 12 years in captivity

REMARKS:  Clownfish and anemone display a classic case of mutualism. Clownfish become resistant to their host by gradually (matter of minutes to days) acquiring a covering of mucus
by brushing against the tentacles of their host. Once the fish has become chemosensorilly camouflaged, the host anemone’s nematocysts do not sting the clownfish.

Some of the anemone’s nutrition results from the clownfish’s activities; clownfish gain protection among the anemone’s nematocysts.

Nemo and his parents in Finding Nemo resemble this species. That said, Marlin, Nemo’s father, given the scenario would have changed into a female following the death of Nemo’s mother and remained near his host anemone, rather than swimming to Sydney. But then the film makers wouldn’t have a narrative to support this film! The name “Nemo” has found its way into FishBase (http://www.fishbase.org) as a common name for this species in the USA!        


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Philippine coral reef 2016

Animal Diversity Web  animaldiversity.org/accounts/Amphiprion_ocellaris/

fishbase  fishbase.org/summary/Amphiprion-ocellaris.html

Flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608339622313/

WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-mp


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family:  Haemulidae (Grunts) bottom-feeding predators, named for their ability to produce sound by grinding their teeth.

Genus/species  Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides  

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Juveniles brown with large white blotches. Becomes more spotted with age, reversing from white to black spotted in the process. Deeper bodies compared to most others in the genus

Length is up to 72 cm (29 inches) and weight to 7,000 g (15.5 pounds)

Spotted Sweetlips IMG_0501

 DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT Indo-West Pacific oceans. Inhabits coral-rich areas of clear lagoon and seaward reefs. 1 – 30 m (3-90 ft).


DIET IN THE WILD: Carnivore. Feeds on crustaceans, mollusks, and fishes at night.



California Academy of Sciences Philippine coral reef 2016

Ron’s flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157625992053826/

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

fishbase fishbase.org/summary/Plectorhinchus-chaetodonoides.html

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Gobiesocidae

Genus/species: Gobiesox maeandricus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Like all clingfish, the northern clingfish possesses an adhesive disc, partially developed from the pelvic fins, that allows it to cling tightly to rocks or blades of kelp even in strong currents or crashing waves. The tapering, tadpole-shaped body, about 17 cm (6.5 in) long, has a single, posteriorly located dorsal fin, a fanlike caudal fin, no spines, and a flattened head. The skin is smooth and scaleless, with a thick layer of protective mucus. Its cryptic coloration makes the animal difficult to see among rocks or kelp.

DISTRIBUTION/ HABITAT: The family totals about 150 species worldwide; only 2 – the northern kelpfish (Gobiesox maeandricus) and the kelp clingfish (Rimicola muscarum) are found in northern California. They are bottom-dwelling fishes, typically found on or under rocks or high up in the kelp.

DIET IN THE WILD: Worms, molluscs, small crabs and other crustaceans.

PREDATORS: The clingfish is preyed upon by various aquatic animals that hunt among the rocks at high tide, and terrestrial predators such as snakes and raccoons that hunt at low tide.

REPRODUCTION: The male nudges the female’s belly. If she accepts him, the male moves parallel to her and quivers, stimulating egg laying. Fertilized eggs are deposited on stones, algae, or other bottom material, and are usually guarded by the male. Larvae are planktonic. Life span is about two years.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List Status Not Evaluated 

REMARKS: Like a number of other bottom-dwelling fishes, clingfish lack swim bladders, an internal sac used by the majority of fish species to control their position in the water. Clingfish can adhere so tightly to a surface that a rock might be moved some distance by strong currents with the fish still attached! Its suction cup also holds water from which the fish can extract oxygen even when exposed by a low tide.


California Academy of Sciences Tidepool Docent Guide 2015

fishbase  www.fishbase.org/summary/3075

Eschmeyer, W.N., E.S. Herald and H. Hammann, 1983. A field guide to Pacific coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 336 p.

Encyclopedia of Life eol.org/pages/203811/details

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157626486149324/

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

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Syngnathiformes (Pipefishes and seahorses)
Family: Syngnathidae (Seahorses, Pipefishes, and Seadragons)

Genus/species: Phycodurus eques

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Color varies from brown tones,to greenish or reddish depending on depth. Their body is scaleless and covered is in hard bony plates with long sharp spines on each bony plate that may be defensive. Leaf-like appendages protrude from the head, body, and tail and transparent dorsal and pectoral fins. Their long, thin pipe-like snout has no jaw.
Maximum length of the leafy seadragon is about 35 cm (14 in).

leafy seadragon11042381084_94c0a006a8_k

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Endemic to southern Australia.
Found amongst brown algae (kelp) in shallow, temperate water, associated with seagrass beds and rocky reefs.

DIET IN THE WILD: Do not have a jaw, teeth or a stomach. They swallow their prey whole by creating a suction to suck mysid shrimp, zooplankton and fish larvae into their mouths.

REPRODUCTION: Like the seahorse, the male seadragon carries the eggs. He develops about 120 shallow depressions in a spongy section of the ventral surface of his tail. The female deposits her eggs in the depressions.

LONGEVITY: 7-10 yrs.

PREDATORS: Depend on camouflage and sway like plants in the water to hide from predators.

CONSERVATION:IUCN Red List (2006.) Near Threatened. Habitat destruction, pollution, excessive fertilizer runoff, and poaching by humans has lead to a decrease in numbers. They are fully protected with special licenses required to collect or export them.

REMARKS: Unlike its seahorse relative that swims vertically, the seadragon swims horizontally. It is a very slow swimmer, as might be expected from its tiny fins, but is protected not only by its camouflage but by sharp spines that deter predators.
The leafy seadragon has the honor of being the official emblem of Australia.

leafy seadragon2980686562_a871c0e383_b

Color of Life
P. eques moves very slowly through the water and mimics seaweed, which makes it a master at camouflage.


California Academy of Sciences Water planet: Centerpiece Water Dependence 2015

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/11042381084/in/album-72157608441047857/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1C2

fishbase fishbase.org/summary/Phycodurus-eques.html

Animal Diversity Web animaldiversity.org/accounts/Phycodurus_eques/

IUCN Red List www.iucnredlist.org/details/17096/0

Aquarium of the Pacific www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/le…



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes)
Order: Tetraodontiformes (Puffers and filefishes)
Family: Tetraodontidae (Puffers)

Genus/species: Canthigaster valentini

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: C. valentini has a white body with four distinct black stripes on the upper half. The body is also covered with brownish-orange dots. It has yellow fins, and blue striping running along the back. It lacks pelvic fins, but has learned to use the pectoral fins to move about the aquarium.
Males have blue-green lines radiating from the back of the eyes. They are also larger than females and may also have a light gray patch in front of the anus.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Occurs throughout the tropical, marine Indo-Pacific where it is common and locally abundant. It inhabits a wide range of coral reef and seagrass habitats at depths ranging from 1 to 55 metres.

DIET IN THE WILD: Forages on the benthos, feeding mainly on filamentous green and red algae, tunicates, and on smaller amounts of corals, bryozoans, polychaetes, echinoderms, mollusks.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List Least Concern (LC)

REMARKS: They are capable of inflating their abdomens with water when frightened or disturbed.
They can produce toxins such as tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin in the skin, gonads, and liver. Try not to use a net when handling this fish since it’s flesh is poisonous.The degree of toxicity varies by species, and also according to geographic area and season.

Color of Life:Color Communicates. The Mimic filefish (not shown here) evades predators by mimicking the Sharpnose Puffer (Canthigaster valentini).

The Mimic filefish can be distinguished from the Sharpnose Puffer (highly poisonous) by comparing their dorsal fins. The Mimic filefish has two dorsal fins, while the Sharpnose Puffer above has only one. – See more at: australianmuseum.net.au/blacksaddle-filefish-paraluteres-…




California Academy of Sciences Color on the Reef exhibit 2015

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

Australian Museum  australianmuseum.net.au/blacksaddle-toby-canthigaster-val…

Encyclopedia of life  eol.org/pages/225023/overview



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Cyprinodontiformes (Rivulines, killifishes and live bearers)
Family: Nothobranchiidae (African rivulines)

Genus/species: Fundulopanchax sjostedti

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Brightly colored killifish.

Blue Gularis Killifish20750345676_f4b54fecfe_z

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Africa: Niger delta in southern and southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon. Found in temporary swamps, raphia-swamps and swampy parts of slow flowing brooks in the swampy coastal rainforest.

DIET IN THE WILD: Insect Larvae


REPRODUCTION: Bottom spawner. It lays eggs in the mud which drys out during the dry season. The adults die but the eggs lie dormant and hatch when the rains return.

IUCN Red List: Least Concern (LC)


California Academy of Sciences, Water is life exhibit 2015)

fishbase fishbase.org/summary/9792

IUCN Red List www.iucnredlist.org/details/full/181696/0

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/20589851839/in/dateposted/

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Cyprinodontiformes (Rivulines, killifishes and live bearers)                                                                                        Family: Poeciliidae

Genus/species: Alafro cultratus

Alafro cultratus16167676782_36fa409f32_k


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central America: Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua. Found in rapidly flowing rainforest streams.

DIET IN THE WILD: Insectivorous, aquatic and terrestrial insects.

REPRODUCTION: Internal live bearers. Gestation lasts for about 24 days. Produces 10 to 30, rarely more, young.



fishbase www.fishbase.gr/summary/46449

Encyclopedia of Life eol.org/pages/1157656/hierarchy_entries/44712641/details

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/16167676782/in/set-72157620708938680

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