Fish facts

Over the past few months I have habitually sent out interesting facts about fishes and other marine life via text message. Here is a recap of the info:

Blacklip Butterflyfish (Chaetodon kleinii)

Dec 14 – If you love to snooze, your spirit fish is a wrasse! At dusk they are the first to bed down either buried in sand or wedged in the reef and typically the last to rise at daybreak.

Dec 7 – Soapfishes, related to grouper, are typically smaller and cryptic. They get their name from their ability to exude a soapy skin toxin called grammistin which makes them unpalatable to predators.

Dec 1- Moray eels regularly open and close their mouths to move water over their gills for respiration giving a misleading appearance of aggression.

Nov 3 – Frogfish have a thin, extendable first dorsal spine used as a lure to attract prey. (Related to bright glowing lure of sharp fanged deep water anglerfish in Nemo) Frogfish store their lure flat against their backs when not in use. Some lures are so specialized they have head, carapace, legs and black dot eye like a shrimp! Regeneration in a few months after consumption but never as pristine.

Squid have specialized cells called chromatophores that allow them to change color

Oct 28 – Parrotfish make mucus sacks to sleep in each night because it camouflages their scent from predators like eels and protects against parasite.

Sept 20: Mollusk Monday: Giant clams contain the same type symbiotic zooxanthellae algae that lives inside coral polyps. Every giant clam contains a unique color pattern due to the zooxanthellae inside, but no pearl. Try an oyster, clam pearls are very rare.

Sept 9 – Fish fact: The dramatic color patterns of juvenile sweetlips are thought to mimic that of unpalatable soft bodied invertebrates like nudibranchs to avoid predation.

Sept 2 – Fish fact: Moray eels possess a second set of jaws located in the throat or pharynx. The eel first clamps with it’s outer jaw then attacks with it’s pharyngeal jaw to pull the prey down its throat and swallow. Watch it in slow motion on YouTube!

Aug 25 – Fish trivia: Which is more poisonous, scorpionfish or pufferfish? Pufferfish! Their flesh contains tetrodoxin toxin that has caused many human fatalities although licensed Japanese chefs remove the toxin and prepare pufferfish as a delicacy. Scorpionfish are not poisonous at all but venomous bc the toxin in their dorsal spine is injected not ingested. Try lionfish pizza, it’s delicious!

Tube sponges living on the deck of this wreck


Aug 20 – Gobies constitute 35% of the total number of fish found on coral reefs. Their fused pelvic fins from a disk-shaped sucker used to adhere to rocks or corals.

Aug 16 – Gobies typically live in male female pairs in burrows. In spawning burrows the female goby maintains a tall (6-13cm) rubble mound, for increased fast water flow over the burrow, which along with the male’s fanning action, oxygenates the eggs inside. If the female leaves the burrow it quickly loses height and males give up, eat the eggs and look for other making opportunities. Look for goby burrows the next time you snorkel!

July 31 – Turtle Tale: Even embryonic sea turtles breath air! If a turtle nest must be transferred do so within the first 6hrs. After 3hrs the embryo begins to attach to the inner shell membrane of the egg. Movement can cause mortality if eggs are tipped or shaken bc the embryo may detach and suffocate in its embryonic fluid. But if undisturbed, two months after being laid a baby sea turtle will emerge!

A sunken fishing vessel and artificial reef home to many fishes. We even got to swim inside.

July 28 – The lizardfish is a voracious carnivore that waits stationary on the bottom then darts upward to seize small fish swimming overhead. Its mouth is lined with small, but sharp teeth and its tongue even has inward directly teeth too!

July 24 – Squirrelfish and soldierfish with their red bodies and large eyes for nocturnal swimming are easily confused, but squirrelfish possess a sharp cheek spine which soldierfish lack. Thus the squirrel is more formidable than the soldier! Handle with care.

July 20 – Many fish change sex during the course of their lifespan including parrotfish, wrasse and emperors. Anemone fish are unique because most sequential hermaphrodites start female and transform into males while clownfish change to become female from initial boyhood.

All of these photos were taken with my GoPro and red underwater filter on a recent dive trip.

July 17 – Triggerfish get their name from their ability to lock their first dorsal spine erect which is then depressed by pressure on the trigger-like second dorsal spine. They use this ability to lock themselves into rock crevices at night.


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