Tag Archive: tropical marine

Kingdom:  Animalia
Phylum:  Echinodermata
Class:  Asteroidea
Order:  Valvatida
Family:  Oreasteridae

Genus/species: Protoreaster nodosus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The backround body color is highly variable; may be beige, brown, orange, red or other hues, such as green or blue. Horn-shaped tall dark nodules are conical and arranged in a single row, radially on the dorsal (top) side. Most horned sea stars found are a roughly rigid five-pointed star-shape (occasionally 4 or 6) with tapering arms to the end.

Diameter up to 30 cm (12 in).

Protoreaster nodosus15010829781_2ff5562e7a_o

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Red Sea, Indian and western Pacific oceans. Found in shallow sheltered sand and seagrass beds. Depth range 1 – 582 m (3.3 – 1900 feet).


DIET IN THE WILD: The mouth is located ventrally (bottom). The Chocolate Chip Seastar covers its food, then pushes out its stomach from inside its body of prey. Sea stars have a unique adaptation for consuming bi-valve mollusks (oysters, clams, mussels, etc.). Stars insert a portion of their stomach into the small “gape” between the valves of a mollusk. Stomach enzymes are released and digest the fleshy part of the mollusk inside its own shell. The digested contents are moved back into the sea star leaving an empty bi-valve shell. P. nodosus prefers sponges, corals, clams and snails, other invertebrates; also opportunistic carrion feeders.

 Protoreaster nodosus3289508974_49c4d004de_b

REPRODUCTION: P. nodosus is a broadcast spawner. As in other sea stars, fertilization is external. Eggs and sperm are stored in the rays and released simultaneously. Larvae look nothing like the adults. The form that first hatches from the eggs is bilaterally symmetrical and planktonic. Larvae eventually settle and transform into tiny sea stars.

Lifespan up to 17 years

sea star15201906310_bc5840e0c0_o 

PREDATORS: Triggerfish, pufferfish, boxfish and parrotfish.


REMARKS: The Chocolate Chip Seastars are also called “knobbly sea star” and the “horned sea star.”
The chocolate chip sea star can regenerate lost limbs, as long as the central disk of the body is intact. Some species can regenerate an entire body from an arm or arm segment.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Mangrove Pop-Up, Main floor (level one) 2018

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Woods Hole www.whoi.edu/science/B/people/kamaral/SeaStar.html

Bishop Museum hbs.bishopmuseum.org/pubs-online/pdf/op11-8.pdf

Georgia Aquarium http://www.georgiaaquarium.org/animal-guide/georgia-aquarium/home/galleries/aquanaut-adventure/gallery-animals/chocolate-chip-sea-star

Reef Creature Identification, Humann and Deloach 2010, page 426

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/4704956/details

Marine Biology http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00227-008-1064-2


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Echinodermata
Class: Echinoidea
Order: Temnopleuroida
Family: oxopneustidae

Genus/species: Tripneustes sp.

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The white sea urchin is a typical, although large, member of the sea urchin (Echinoidea) group. Anatomy is similar to all urchins,
The mouth is a complex protrusible structure known as the Aristotle’s lantern

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: It is found along the west coast of Africa and along the western central Atlantic Ocean from Bermuda, to the Carolina coast of the United States of America, and the Caribbean to Brazil. They live in a variety of shallow water habitats including rocky rubble, algal rock flats and seagrass beds.

DIET: Algae

REPRODUCTION: The reproductive system of the white sea urchin consists of five gonads, The gonads are not only the source of eggs or sperm, which are referred to as roe, but also serve as the main nutrient storage organ.

CONSERVATION: The White Sea Urchin is fished heavily. leading to increasing scarcity. Restrictions apply in most areas.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Shallow Coral Reef 2018

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FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS www.fao.org/docrep/013/i1751e/i1751e.pdf


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.


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California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Philippine Coral Reef 2016

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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: Cnidaria
Class: Scyphozoa
Order: Rhizostomeae
Family: Mastigiidae

Genus/species: Mastigias papua 


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The translucent bell of M. papua is usually hemispherical, with a diameter ranging from 30 to 80 mm (1 in to 3 inches). This species has 8 frilled oral arms, rather than tentacles. These arms end in a club-like filament that has a triangular cross-section, though this is absent in some species. Each oral arm has mouths on the club, as well as along the length towards the bell.
Color variation exists within Mastigias papua, though the bell is usually greenish blue to olive-green with yellow, white, and/or brown oval, granular spots across the rim (over the exumbrella). Coloring can be attributed to the zooxanthellae that reside symbiotically within the lagoon jellyfish (mostly in the mesoglea)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Tropical Pacific ocean usually bays, harbors and lagoons.

DIET IN THE WILD: Instead of a single mouth, they have many small mouth openings on their oral-arms, which capture small animal plankton. In addition, each jelly grows a crop of algae, which gives them a greenish-brown color. They harvest some of their food directly from the algae.

MORTALITY: Lifespan of approximately 4 months

PREDATION The only creature that has been confirmed to prey on Mastigias papua is a sea anemone, Entacmaea medusivora.


REMARKS: Some species of small, juvenile fishes are known to shelter within this jelly’s bell for protection from larger predators.
The famous jellyfish of Jellyfish Lake, a well-known dive site in the Pacific islands of Palau, are descended from M. papua However unlike its jellyfish lake cousin M. papua possess venomous stinging cells for feeding and protection.

Human contacts may  experience many adverse effects such as rashes, severe itching, nausea, and vomiting when contacting tentacles.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Color on the Reef 2017 AQA17

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

ADW animaldiversity.org/accounts/Mastigias_papua/

EOL  eol.org/pages/203445/overview

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California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Color on the Reef 2017 AQA17

Monterey Bay Aquarium


ADW animaldiversity.org/accounts/Mastigias_papua/

Eol eol.org/pages/203445/overview



Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Anthozoa
Subclass: Hexacorallia
Order: Corallimorpharia
Family: Corallimorphidae

Genus/species: Corynactis sp.

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Note ball tipped tentacles. 




DISTRIBUTION: Tropical Indian, Central and Western Pacific Oceans

HABITAT: Reef associated

DIET: Small fish and zooplankton

REMARKS: This close relative of sea anemones has sticky ball-tipped tentacles.  Some species of shrimps and fish are immune to the stickiness and live within the tentacles.

Corallimorpharia (Corallimorph) is an order of marine cnidarians closely related to the true sea anemones (Actiniaria). They are mostly tropical, with a narrow column topped with a wide oral disc. The tentacles are usually short or very short, arranged in rows radiating from the mouth. Many species occur together in large groups. In many respects, they resemble the stony corals, except for the absence of a stony skeleton. 


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Color on the Reef 2017 AQA17 Charles Delbeek

EOL eol.org/pages/75554/names

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Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Anthozoa
Order: Actiniaria
Family: Actiniidae

Genus/species: Entacmaea quadricolor

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The Bubbletip Sea Anemone has an adherent base which attaches to the shape of the substratum. At the top of the column is a flattened oral disc with an oval mouth in the middle. The oral disc and column are smooth and brown, green, or occasionally a fluorescent reddish-orange. Tentacles are up to 10 cm (4 inches) length, often but not always inflated and balloonlike at the tips. 

Length up to 40 cm (16 inches)

Bubble tip anemone5389669474_fb02a667dc_o

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found in the Indo-Pacific, usually in deep crevices with only the tentacles visible.

Bubble tip anemone16122486362_7ee3a9b81d_o

DIET IN THE WILD: E. quadricolor captures prey using cnidocytes on their tentacles which contain many “stinging organs” known as nematocysts (or cnidae). Larger individuals generally have larger nematocysts used when prey drifts or swims into the tentacles of the anemone to immobilised and transport to the mouth via tentacle contraction. They are microcarnivores of plankton, supplemented with nutrition from zooxanthellae algal symbionts.

REPRODUCTION: Bubbletip Sea Anemones are roadcast spawners releasing gametes directly into water.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List Not Evaluated

REMARKS: They are symbiotic with many species of anemonefishes, such as the common clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)

E. quadricolor has obligate photosynthetic zooxanthellae, brown algae, which live inside the anemone acting as a carbon and nitrogen source.

This anemone also exhibits biofluorescence.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Color on the Reef 2017 AQA16

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The University of Queensland


SeaLifebase www.sealifebase.org/summary/Entacmaea-quadricolor.html


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Plesiopidae (Roundheads, spiny basslets)
Subfamily: Plesiopinae

Genus/species: Calloplesiops altivelis

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Head and body brownish black with small pale blue spots; vertical and pelvic fins dark orange-brown, with many small blue spots; blue ringed black ocellus above base of last 3 dorsal rays; yellow spots at base of upper caudal rays; pectoral rays bright yellow, fin membrane transparent
Length to 16 cm (6.30 in)


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Indo-Pacific: Red Sea and East Africa to Tonga and the Line Islands Found in rocky crevasses, at depth range 4 to 30 m (13.12 to 98.43 ft).

DIET IN THE WILD: A predator of crustaceans and small fish. It assumes ahead down position, with its false eye spot near the tail resembling the head of a moray eel.

REPRODUCTION: Eggs are guarded by the male parent.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List; Not Evaluated

COLOR OF LIFE NOTE: Color Communicates: Anti-predator Adaptations, Batesian mimicry  (a harmless species evolved to imitate the warning signals of a harmful species directed at a predator of them both). 
An apparent mimetic relationship exists between this fish and the whitemouth moray (Gymnothorax meleagris). When threatened, a comet will raise all of its median fins and swim into a hole or crevice. But rather than disappearing completely, it typically stops in the entrance of its sanctuary and leaves the posterior part of its body exposed.
Also note the false eyespot posteriorly.


Animal Diversity Web   animaldiversity.org/accounts/Calloplesiops_altivelis/

fishbase  www.fishbase.org/summary/Calloplesiops-altivelis.html

EOL eol.org/pages/205993/details

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Scaridae

Genus/species: Scarus quoyi

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Parrotfishes are wrasse-shaped but more heavy-bodied. The main difference is the structure of their mouth. Wrasses have individual teeth, but parrot fish teeth are actually fused together, forming a beak. 

Mature males are blue-green with pinkish scale margins. The operculum is orange dorsally and violet ventrally. There is a patch of blue-green on the cheek and across the snout. – female Greenblotch Parrotfish are pale grey-brown with five or six faint white bars on the body.

Length up to 28 cm.

Quoy’s Parrotfish20793038334_af78ec0ed9_k

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found from the Maldives to Vanuatu, extending northwards to Ryukyu Islands, Japan and southwards to New Caledonia inhabiting coral-rich areas of outer channels and seaward reefs.

DIET IN THE WILD:  Herbivorous, feeds on algae from rocky substrates.

REPRODUCTION: Parrotfishes are pelagic spawners. They release buoyant eggs which become part of the plankton floating freely, eventually settling into the coral until hatching.


REMARKS: A recent study has discovered that the parrotfish is extremely important for the health of the Great Barrier Reef. It is the only one of thousands of reef fish species that regularly performs the task of scraping and cleaning inshore coral reefs.

Note: S. quoyi does not feed on coral algae thus does not destroy coral , which is why it can be present in the Philippine coral reef exhibit exhibit. (Charles Delbeek M.Sc. Assistant Curator, Steinhart Aquarium California Academy of Sciences)


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Philippine Coral Reef 2016 (Vetted, Charles Delbeek Academy assistant curator)

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Australian Museum  australianmuseum.net.au/greenblotch-parrotfish-scarus-quoyi

Australian Geographic http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/news/2014/09/single-keystone-species-may-be-key-to-reef-health

Encyclopedia of Life:  eol.org/California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Philippine Coral Reef 2016pages/1012771/details

fishbase  www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?ID=5554&g…

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

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Siganidae (Rabbitfishes and Spinefoots)

Genus/species: Siganus corallinus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS:  Color is yellow with numerous small blue spots on the head and body and a dark triangular area above and behind the eye.  Like all rabbitfishes, they have small, rabbit-like mouths, large dark eyes, and a shy temperament, thus their common name.

Length up to 30 cm (12 in)

Blue-Spotted Spinefoot Siganus corallinus (tetrazonus)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Indo-West Pacific among corals of lagoon and protected reefs at 3–30 m (10-100 ft).


DIET IN THE WILD: Benthic algae.

IUCN RED LIST Not Evaluated

REMARKS: Rabbitfishes have fin spines with venom glands that can inflict painful, though not life-threatening wounds; aquarists should take care as the genus is easily frightened and readily takes defensive action.



California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Philippine Coral Reef 2016

fishbase:  www.fishbase.se/summary/4611

Australian Museum  australianmuseum.net.au/coral-rabbitfish-siganus-corallinus

Ron’s flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608339530941/with/3222318704/

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