Tag Archive: Philippine Coral Reef

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

Genus/species: Chelmon rostratus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: All species have a deep, laterally compressed body with a continuous dorsal fin and distinctive rounded anal fin. Many have a band across the eye and/or a false eyespot, patterns that may lure a predator to attack the tail
rather than the head.
The C.rostratus has a whitish body with 4 vertical orange bands and a black false eyespot on the terminal orange band. The snout is long with beak-like mouth.

Length to 19 cm (7.5 in).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: They are found in the Andaman Sea to Papua New Guinea, north to Ryukyu Island, south to Northwest Australia and Great Barrier Reef in estuaries and coastal reefs.

DIET IN THE WILD: Though the diet of the Copperband Butterflyfish is well documented, they are believed to feed heavily on tube worms and small crustaceans using their long snout for prying into the crevices of coral.

REPRODUCTION: Butterflyfishes unlike most fishes are usually monogamous, forming pairs and are often seen swimming together.   They are broadcast spawners an external method of reproduction where the female releases unfertilized eggs into the water. At the same time, a male release sperm into the water which fertilizes the eggs which contain a drop of nutrient oil to sustain the embryo  developing inside the egg case. Oil also provides buoyancy, so the eggs float and drift with the current.  Planktonic eggs hatch within a few days becoming the larval stage lasts from several weeks up to 2 months.  During the late larval stage the head and body are covered with bony plates which mature into small fry fish.

Copperband Butterflyfish8387609757_79c1b099a9_b


REMARKS: The Copperbanded Butterflyfish is a food fish marketed locally. and is reported to be “not good” from a culinary standpoint.

Color of Life, Color Conceals.   The Copperband Butterflyfish helps conceals its head by having a vertical line through the eye which matching the 3 other vertical orange bands. A large false spot on its terminal orange band (a less vital portion of its body) confuses predators.


Ron’s flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/3380844264/in/set-72157625119200613/

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Philippine Coral Reef 2016

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

EOL eol.org/pages/339397/details

fishbase fishbase.org/summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=5483

Australian Museum australianmuseum.net.au/Beaked-Coralfish-Chelmon-rostratus

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.



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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

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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/

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Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Labridae (Wrasses)

Genus/species: Cirrhilabrus rubrimarginatus


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Body shape is fusiform. The male is more brilliantly colored compared to the female and the juvenile, Has a red margin on both the tail and dorsal fin.

length up to 5 inchesRed-Margin Wrasse

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Western Pacific: north to the Ryukyu Islands, through the Philippines, Palau, and Indonesia. Adults found in deep coastal to outer reef drop-offs and steep slopes to 40 m (130 feet) or more, usually in loose aggregations.

CONSERVATION: IUCN; Least concern.

REMARKS: Fairy wrasses, along with 4 other closely related genera, have an unusual eye structure. The cornea is divided into two segments, basically forming a double pupil. It is theorized that the center pupil acts like a close-up lens to give the fish a clear view of its small prey. Fairy wrasses are active during the day, and sleep at night wedged into crevasses protected by a mucous cocoon they secrete around themselves.


California Academy of Sciences Philippine coral reef 2016      Charles Delbeek, M.Sc  Assistant Curator, Steinhart Aquarium  California Academy of Sciences

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Ron’s flickr www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/13277420973/in/set-7215…

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/Cirrhilabrus-rubrimarginatus.html

EOL eol.org/pages/213476/hierarchy_entries/44698464/details

Reef Keeping  http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-01/hcs3/

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

Genus/species: Halichoeres prosopeion

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Adults green-blue in front fading to light yellow behind. A dark spot behind the eye; dorsal fin with large black spot near the front. Unlike most wrasses, no obvious differences between sexes.

Length up to 13 cm (5 inches).


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Western Pacific; east to Indonesia and Sumatra, north to southern Japan, south to Great Barrier Reef. Habitat: Lagoons and seaward reefs. Depth range 2 – 40 m (6.5 -130 feet).

DIET IN THE WILD: Small crabs, shrimps, worms, and other benthic invertebrate.


REMARKS: Like many wrasses, it quickly buries itself in sand when threatened or alarmed.



California Academy of Sciences Philippine coral reef 2016
Vetted J. Charles Delbeek, M.Sc.
Assistant Curator, Steinhart Aquarium

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 fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/Halichoeres-prosopeion.html

 EOL eol.org/pages/211449/details


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

Genus/species: Halichoeres chloropterus


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Juveniles lime green; females pale green above and white below, with a thin dark line on the base of the pectoral fin. Terminal males head of male with intricate reticulate pattern of bands that varies from one individual to another; small blackish spot on anus.

Length up to 19 cm (7.5 inches).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: West Central Pacific: Philippines to the Great Barrier Reef. Found in shallow protected coral reef on silt, sand and rubble bottom. Depth to 10 meters (33 feet)

Pastel-green wrasse4391731072_b36a014eca_b

DIET IN THE WILD: Hard-shelled prey, including mollusks, crustaceans, and sea urchins.



California Academy of Sciences Philippine coral reef 201

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fishbase: www.fishbase.org/summary/Halichoeres-chloropterus.html

EOL eol.org/pages/223761/details




Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Labridae: (Wrasses)

Genus/species;   Choerodon fasciatus

C. fasciatus 
has vertical, broad, bright orange bands interspersed with blue bands. The caudal peduncle is black,  tail is white and dorsal as well as pelvic fins are orange. As it ages the back half of the body darkens to a dark blue/purple color. The mouth has large blue teeth is a very distinctive feature. 

Length up to 30 cm (12 in).


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found in the Western Pacific among seaward reefs, 5–35 m (15-100 ft). Usually solitary.

 Tuskfish have protruding canines used for moving rubble to expose invertebrate prey and prying mollusks from the substrate. Hard shelled prey crushed by pharyngeal teeth. Eats mollusks, echinoderms, crustaceans, worms.

 Pelagic spawners, initial males spawn in large groups; terminal males are usually territorial and pair
 spawn with females of their choice. Females change sex into males for their terminal phase.


REMARKS: Wrasses are most easily identified by their pointed snouts and prominent canine teeth that protrude in front of the jaw. Other common characteristics include their form of propulsion, which depends mostly on the wing like motion of the pectoral fins with only an occasional burst of speed provided by the caudal fin. Color, markings and body shapes change during maturation.


California Academy of Sciences Philippine coral reef 2016

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EOL  http://eol.org/pages/206009/details

fishbase   http://www.fishbase.org/summary/Choerodon-fasciatus.html

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

Genus/species: Gomphosus varius

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Wrasses vary greatly in size and body shape. All have terminal mouths, prominent canines, thick lips, and a single continuous dorsal fin.

The Bird Wrasse common name refers to the fish’s long snout, which is said to resemble a bird’s beak. This species, like many wrasses, changes appearance as it matures. During the juvenile phase it is green above and white below. The snout is short. In the next phase, called the initial phase, most or all are females, and they are white with a black spot on each scale. The top of the snout is orange, and the caudal fin is black with a white border. 

During the terminal phase, a dominant male becomes blue-green. The caudal fin has a bright blue crest.

Length of males up to 30 cm (12 inches) Females to about 20 cm (8 inches)

Initial Phase below

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Indo-Pacific: East Africa to Hawaiian Islands, north to southern Japan, south to Australia. Found in lagoons and seaward reefs at depths 2–30 m (6-100 ft.).

DIET IN THE WILD: Unlike parrotfishes which scrape algae from rocks with fused beaks, most wrasses feed on hard-shelled invertebrates such as crabs, brittle stars and shrimps  They use scissored motions with protruding canines and crush with powerful pharyngeal teeth. 

REPRODUCTION: Anthias and most wrasses are protogynous hermaphrodites meaning they are born female but if a dominant male perishes, the largest female of the group will often change into a male to take its place. On the other hand, clown anemonefish are protandrous hermaphrodites. This means that they mature as males and the largest one will change into a female when the resident female dies.

REMARKS: Like other wrasses, the bird wrasse can be recognized by its characteristic swimming pattern: the pectoral fins move up and down in a “flying” motion”.

Terminal phase below


California Academy of Sciences Philippine coral reef 2016

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Australian Museum http://australianmuseum.net.au/Birdnose-Wrasse-Gomphosus-varius

EOL  http://eol.org/pages/224889/details

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

Genus/species: Xanthichthys auromarginatus

 Male belowBluechin Triggerfish aka Gilded Triggerfish (male) Xanthichthys auromarginatus (Balistidae)TriggerfishesIMG_1613

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Steel blue with white spots. Males have blue chin patch and yellow margins on dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. Females lack chin patch, and have maroon stripe on base of dorsal and anal fins, and on outer margin of tail.

Their scales are plate-like and have no pelvic fins.

Length to up to 11.8 inches. (male above, female below)

Gilded Triggerfish (female) Xanthichthys auromarginatus _2

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Indo-Pacific: East Africa to Hawaiian Islands, north to the Ryukyus, south to New Caledonia. Marine reefs 25 – 450 ft depths.

DIET IN THE WILD: Feeds a few meters above the bottom where it consumes zooplankton (prefers copepods).

REPRODUCTION: Distinct pairing, oviparous, external fertilization.

REMARKS: The common name comes a unique interaction between the large first dorsal spine and the smaller second one behind. When the posterior spine is erect, it locks the strong first spine vertically in place, allowing it to wedge itself into a protective space, perhaps a hole or under a rock, where a predator can rarely extract it. When the posterior spine is depressed, the anterior spine folds back easily, like taking a lock off a trigger.

Pink tail triggerfish with trigger erect below (not on exhibit)

PinkTail Triggerfish Erect trigger IMG_0863 copy

Halfmoon trigger hiding below (not on exhibit)


Like all triggerfishes, able to rotate eyeballs independently.


California Academy of Sciences Philippine coral reef 2016

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 fishbase www.fishbase.us/summary/6030

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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

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