The ten species of swallowtail angelfish stand out among the marine angelfish family. Instead of staying close to the reef, and feeding on coral polyps and other stationary organisms, swallowtails consume plankton in the water column. While the sexes of other angelfishes are colored alike, male and female swallowtails look very different from each other. Only described to science in 1970, this species occurs off Japan and Australia, and far out into the Central Pacific, but is absent from the Indo-Pacific. Only the male has stripes.
Also known as the Starck’s demoiselle, the Starki damsel, is found in the northern and southern parts of the West Pacific. These brightly colored reef dwellers are commonly kept in aquariums and are extremely hardy fish. Like other members of the family Pomacentridae, they can be very territorial, despite their small size. They can be seen fiercely defending a crevice, or hiding quietly under a coral or clam.
The White-capped clownfish is named for the white color mark on its forehead. The name “leucokranos” is derived from the Greek word meaning “white capped” or “white helmet”. It was discovered in 1972 in Mandang, New Guinea. As is the case in our Solomon Islands exhibit, the White capped clownfish is often associated with the Carpet anemone, Stichodactyla sp., and rarely strays far from the protection of its stinging tentacles. A thick mucous coating on its skin keeps the clownfish from being stung.
The Magnificent foxface is often considered the most attractive member of the Rabbitfish family. They are herbivorous in nature and can be seen grazing on algae throughout the day. Venomous dorsal spines and the ability to change color rapidly, help defend this coral reef dweller from predators.
Also known as the Elegant tang, or Indian orangespine unicornfish, the Blond naso is a member of the surgeonfish family. Two bright orange spines can be seen extending from the base of the tail. These spines are said to be “as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel”, hence the name surgeonfish. This species was once thought to be a different color variety of the Lipstick tang, Naso lituratus, but is now considered its own species. The Blond naso is primarily a herbivore and can be found in coral reefs throughout the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.
The Mandarin dragonet is sometimes called the Psychedelic fish because of its flamboyant coloration which resembles the robe of an Imperial Chinese officer. It is an extremely popular aquarium fish known for its intricate mating displays. Mandarin dragonets feed on small crustaceans found in the sediment and crevices of rock and corals. Their natural range includes the Western Pacific, Indonesia the Philippines and Australia.
The Copperband or Beaked butterfly fish is a popular species, but can be a finicky aquarium inhabitant. By nature, the Copperband butterfly feeds on coral polyps, its long slender mouth perfectly suited for this task. In aquariums, the Copperband butterfly is often introduced as a “natural” pest control solution for nuisance anemones such as Aiptasia spp. The dark spot near back half of the dorsal fin is believed to be a “false eyespot” which can fool would-be predators into thinking the fish’s eye is on the opposite end, giving the fish a chance of escape.
The Percula clownfish , also known as the Orange clownfish, is a popular aquarium species, frequently bred in aquaculture facilities. It is naturally found throughout the Indo-Pacific and is generally associated with a host sea anemone such as Heteractis spp. The Percula clownfish is often confused with another similar species, the Ocellated clownfish, Amphiprion ocellaris. The Percula clown has thicker black bands separating the orange and white coloration on its body. It surged in popularity following the Disney/Pixar movie “Finding Nemo”, where it was featured as the lead characters, “Nemo” and “Marlin”.
The Blue hippo tang, also known as the Palette tang, or Hepatus tang, is a popular member of the Acathuridae family. This omnivorous fish can be found in small schools throughout the Indo-Pacific region and was made famous when featured as the character “Dory” in the Disney / Pixar movie, “Finding Nemo”. Like other members of the surgeonfish family, the Blue hippo tang is armed with a sharp spine at the base of its tail. This species, however, has an added weapon in the fact that the spine is armed with a venom gland, which can inflict a bee-like sting to its victim.
The Wideband anemonefish differs from its other clownfish relatives in the fact that it has a large white band in the center of its body. Like the McCullochi clownfish, the Latezonatus clownfish has only recently become available to aquarium hobbyists due to unprecedented success by marine aquaculturists. The natural range of the Wideband anemonefish extends from Southern Queensland to Northern New South Wales and Lord Howe Island.