Introduction to Caribbean Reef Fish. M.L. Anderson, 2009. Fisheries Abundance and Distribution of Key Species. Blue tang Acanthurus coeruleus. Nassau grouper Epinephelus striatus. Four-eyed butterflyfish Chaetodon capistratus. Queen triggerfish Balistes vetula. Queen parrotfish
M.L. Anderson, 2009
An amazing diversity.
= LOTS OF PLACES TO LIVE!
Spawning (sperm and eggs released in open water).
Scattering eggs over substratum.
Preparing/defending nests on bottom.
Carrying fertilized eggs inside mouth or pouch.
Two stages, pelagic and benthic. Pelagic (oceanic) larval stage is when the fish float freely in the water.
3. After settlement, the fish establish relatively small home-ranges with the majority spending the rest of their lives on the same reef. This is the benthic stage.
Feed on algae located on the coral reefs.
Control algae abundance on the reef and keep the hard surfaces clean and allow new corals to grow or invertebrates to attach to the substrate.
There is some evidence that herbivorous fish have bacteria in their guts, much like cows, to allow them to digest more nutrients from the algae.
Surgeonfish, damselfish, parrotfish.
They play an important role on composition of prey communities.
Butterfly fish, angelfish, wrasse.
This group includes the largest number of coral reef fish species.
They eat coral polyps, sessile inverts, and some mobile inverts.
They influence the composition of prey communities.
Eat well-armored inverts, crustaceans, star-fish, some algae.
Filefish, triggerfish, puffers.
The disturbance of any of these feeding groups may affect directly another group or entire reef community.
There is such a fragile balance holding the coral reef fish community together like links in a chain.
Examples: lampreys and hagfish.
…are primitive species with no jaws, scales, pelvic or pectoral fins.
Most lampreys live in freshwater and those that live in the open ocean come back to FW to spawn.
Hagfish are scavengers, dining on dead or dying fish, using their rasping mouths to consume the flesh.
They produce great quantities of slime and are usually found in deep cold water.
Jawed fish are divided into either bony or cartilaginous fish.
Bony fish have skeletons made of bone.
They have round, comb-like or diamond shaped scales, and a pair of gill covers.
Most are also equipped with swim bladders to control buoyancy.
This group of fish have skeletons made of cartilage.
The scales are sharp and plate-like and they have no gill covers or swim bladders. Instead, they use large, oil-filled livers to keep them buoyant.
Sharks and rays are the most common cartilaginous fish.
Eagle Rays fly through the water by flapping their long, pectoral fins.
They gather in large schools and feed on bottom dwellers such as mollusks and clams.
They have flat teeth that crush shell fish and strong suction which draws in the prey.
They also have a strong, serrated, venomous spine near the base of the tail.
Goatfishes get their name from the set of barbels hanging under their chin.
These barbels are used in feeding to detect small shrimp, crabs and worms buried in the sand.
The Yellow Goatfish looks much like a Yellowtail Snapper if not for the barbels.
These barbels can be folded up into a concealed location under the chin.
Grunts are often found schooling under and around ledges during the daytime.
They are nocturnal feeders that move out to surrounding grass beds to feed on small fish and invertebrates at night.
Grunts get their name by making grunting sounds when threatened. They do this by rubbing bony teeth plates together in the back of their throat.
Grunts lack any prominent teeth in the front of the mouth.
Though looking like snakes, eels are fish.
They have a bad reputation mainly due to the constant opening and closing of their sharp toothed mouths.
However, this is not a threat to divers, as this action pumps water through their gills. Most eels are actually very shy.
The Green Moray is the largest of the Caribbean morays.
The nurse shark is the most commonly sighted shark in the Caribbean due to its docile nature and habit of laying still on the bottom under a ledge.
They can often be approached, though like many animal should never be antagonized. They can still bite!
Groupers are found on fine dining menus around the world and are consequently under extremely heavy fishing pressure.
A top of the line predator, groupers grow very slowly and can be many decades old.
They are hermaphrodites, starting life as females and after a number of years, change sex to end life as males.
This sex /age relationship has serious implications when placed under the old standard of throwing the little ones back and keeping all the big ones. Too many males may be removed from the population to allow for effective spawning.
Sharks and rays are the only fish that have a skeleton made up of cartilage.
They are some of the most ancient creatures in the sea.
The large Southern Stingray is normally found half buried in the sand next to the reef and has no markings on a gray to brown body.
They get their family name because they snap their mouths open and shut when caught on a fishing line.
Fishermen reaching into the mouth to remove the hook often receive a nasty bite from the sharp pointed teeth in the front of the mouth. These teeth are often visible to a diver during a close approach.
Snappers tend to hang out under ledges in the daytime.