Tag Archive: tropical marine

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

Dendrochirus biocellatus6287769897_0dbf3ffb24_b


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.


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/


Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: Metazoa
Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Anthoza
Order: Scleractina
Family: Faviidae

Genus/species: Colpophyllia natans

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Dome shaped colonies of individual polyps. The colony surfaces are covered with random curved ridges separated by large long and wide grooves known as valleys. Size: Up to 6 feet in diameter.

Boulder Brain Coral5230996878_5b77255438_b

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Florida Keys. Depth up to 55 m (180 ft)

DIET IN THE WILD: Plankton and zooxanthella by-products.

REPRODUCTION: Budding, and external sexual fertilization.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Least Concern     Threats include coral bleaching, black band disease, and white plague which can cause mortality.

REMARKS: Even though they may grow to 6 feet their skeletons will float when dry.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Caribbean Reef Exhibit 2018

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/5230996878/in/album-72157625866509117/

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

arkive  www.arkive.org/boulder-brain-coral/colpophyllia-natans/

IUCN Red List www.iucnredlist.org


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Annelida
Class: Polychaeta
Order: Canalipalpata
Suborder: Sabellida
Family: Sabellidae

The Sabellidae family (feather duster worms) are a family of sedentary marine polychaete tube worms where the head is mostly concealed by feathery branchiae. They build tubes out of parchment, sand, and bits of shell. Glomerula secretes a tube of calcium carbonate.

The appendages that give this worm its name are finely divided tentacles that act as plankton filters.  They also wave their tentacles to move the water around them, increasing the odds of catching food. Food is then moved from the tentacles into the worm’s mouth. The tentacles long grooves that get progressively smaller, limiting plankton size which is appropriate to eat when it arrives at its their mouth.  An alternate tube runs upward internally for waste is expelled.

Note: The rock above and to the right is covered by a sponge which differs from the 2 verticle sponges and their symbiotic coral.

Reference: Ryan Schaeffer. California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Hidden Reef 2018

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/27331312517/in/album-72157659465376212/

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-like)
Family: Cirrhitidae (Hawkfishes)

Genus/species: Oxycirrhites typus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Color is whitish with horizontal and vertical red bands forming a cross-hatch pattern. The body is slender, moderately compressed with a long snout (~ ½ head length). The upper head profile slightly concave with a fringe of cirri on rear edge of front nostril.

Length up to 13 cm (5 in)

Longnose Hawkfish16150610665_6ca0325fef_k

NOTE: These two fish are a pair and were collected together in the Philippines (2015) at 250 ft per Charles Delbeek, California Academy of Sciences.

DISTRIBUTION/ HABITAT: Widely distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea. Also found in the eastern Pacific from the Gulf of California to northern Columbia and the Galapagos Islands. They are non-migratory tropical marine fish, found at depths from 10–100 m. Inhabit the steep outer reef slopes that are exposed to strong currents. They are usually found in large gorgonians and corals.

DIET IN THE WILD: O. typus feeds on small benthic or planktonic crustaceans. This long mouth allows the fish to reach into small crevices to capture shrimp and remove snails from their shells.

REPRODUCTION: Monogamous pelagic spawner


CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List Not Evaluated

REMARKS: Members of this family seem to be monogamous. However, in reality they probably practice facultative monogamy. In this mating system, males are limited in their ability to acquire and maintain females, and thus have only a single mate, but may acquire additional females if conditions for doing so are favorable.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Philippine Coral Reef and Color Cluster 2016 AQA16

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/16150610665/in/album-72157625992053826/

fishbase http://www.fishbase.org/summary/SpeciesSummary.php?genusname=Oxycirrhites&speciesname=typus

EOL http://eol.org/pages/212252/details

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1Hq


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: C. altivelis is 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: Marine Betta 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.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Water is Life Hidden Reef 2018

Animal Diversity Web   animaldiversity.org/accounts/Calloplesiops_altivelis/

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

EOL eol.org/pages/205993/details

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/5118860448/in/album-72157652559028013/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1B1



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. A sea star’s skeleton is made up of many calcium carbonate plates (ossicles) that move like flexible joints. (In sea urchins and sand dollars, their skeletal plates are fused). The Seastar skeleton is covered with a spiny skin.

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

Ron’s WordPress shortlink wp.me/p1DZ4b-1ml

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/15010829781/in/set-72157608501343477/

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


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 and Hidden Reef 2018

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: 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

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/25651292438/in/album-72157623903687834/

Ron’Wordpress Shortlink wp.me/p1DZ4b-1U3

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


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

Ron’sW0rdpress Shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-PC

Ron’s flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157610031545571/with/5985963712/


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

WordPress Shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-ji

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